- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 14, 2002

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) An explosion believed to have been caused by a grenade injured about a dozen people, most of them German tourists, at an archaeological site in northern Pakistan yesterday, officials said. No one was seriously hurt.
Authorities said the incident occurred in Mansehra, about 170 miles north of Peshawar in the tribal-dominated North West Frontier Province close to the Afghan border.
Police said the injured included seven Germans, three Austrians and three Pakistanis. In Islamabad, the Interior Ministry listed seven Germans, one Austrian, one Slovene and three Pakistanis.
Meanwhile, in the Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir state, 25 Hindus, mostly women and children, were killed in a grenade attack by suspected Islamic terrorists yesterday.
Pakistani police said about 21 tourists were leaving their van to view ancient inscriptions associated with the third century B.C. Mauryan emperor Ashoka in Mansehra when the blast occurred. The area is on the ancient Silk Road between China and Europe, and is rich in archaeological and culture sites.
The tourists were headed to Islamabad under police escort, and it was impossible to clarify the difference. The government-run news agency quoted Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema as saying that all the injured had been treated at a hospital and released.
Officials said they were uncertain what caused the blast, but the news agency quoted a senior Interior Ministry official as saying it was likely caused by a crude explosive device thrown at the tourists. Small grenades are sold openly in parts of Pakistan.
Police said they had brought in an undisclosed number of people for questioning and were interviewing witnesses.
A June 14 car bombing outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi killed 12 Pakistanis and injured 50. On May 8, a suicide bomber killed 11 French engineers and two others in front of the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi. On March 17, a grenade attack on a church in Islamabad killed the attacker and four others, including two Americans.
In the Kashmir attack, suspected Islamic guerrillas threw grenades and engaged security forces in a gunbattle, killing 25 Hindus in a shantytown outside Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, police and hospital officials said.
More than 30 people were wounded, according to officials at the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu.
State Police Chief Ashok Suri said authorities suspect the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the most feared of more than a dozen Pakistan-based Islamic groups fighting to secure Kashmir's independence from India or merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan. He did not elaborate.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident, which is consistent with previous attacks in which many civilians were killed.
Up to eight militants who, according to some reports, were disguised as Hindu holy men walked into the shantytown outside Jammu and set off three or four grenades before opening fire, the police control officer said, citing witness accounts. The victims were watching a final cricket match between India and England on television, he said.
The attack was the biggest since a May 14 strike by Islamic militants against a military base near Jammu that killed 34 persons mostly soldiers' wives and children and put India on a war footing with neighboring Pakistan.
The Indian government did not immediately react to news of the assault. But it was almost certain to raise tensions with Pakistan, which is blamed by New Delhi for most of the terrorist activity in India. Pakistan denies involvement.
Jammu, located in the southern part of Jammu and Kashmir, has rarely witnessed the kind of violence that has killed more than 60,000 people in the state over the past decade, mostly in the Kashmir Valley father to the north.
But Islamic groups have increasingly made the Jammu region the focus of their attacks in recent months.
India says Pakistan is fighting a "proxy war," providing arms, funds and training to the militants. Islamabad says it backs the rebels only with ideology, not weapons.
The territorial dispute over Kashmir is at the core of five decades of hostility between India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over the territory.
More than 1 million Indian and Pakistani soldiers are massed along their border. There were fears earlier this year that tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbors could lead to war.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide