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5 devotees dead, 60 injured
Grenade attack on Charar-e-Sharief shrine
Tribune News Service and UNI

Srinagar, June 8
At least five persons, including four women, were killed and more than 60 injured when some unidentified persons hurled a hand grenade into a crowded compound of the shrine of Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali at Charar-e-Sharief in central Kashmir this afternoon.

The IGP, Dr Ashok Bhan, said according to initial reports, the grenade was hurled when devotees were about to offer Friday prayers. He said two of the injured died on way to hospital.

The injured have been admitted to different hospitals here where the condition of a few of them is stated to be critical.

Eyewitnesses said on phone that two persons were involved in the attack. They said immediately after the blast they also heard firing shots. However, it was not immediately known who resorted to firing and whether it was in the air.

The eyewitnesses said more than 20,000 persons from different parts of the valley were offering prayers when the blast took place.

The blast caused no damage to the shrine.

Tension gripped the township after the explosion which took place at about 2.25 p.m., minutes before the prayers. A large number of people later held demonstrations against the police, blaming it for the incident. The police had to fire into the air to contain the demonstrators.

One person died on the spot and a 22-year-old girl succumbed to her injuries while being shifted to hospital. Unconfirmed reports said a man succumbed to his injuries at the S.K. Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura. Twenty four persons are being treated at Bone and Joints Hospital here while 26 others are being treated at the S.K. Institute of Medical Sciences.

Charar-e-Sharief, 28 km south-west of Srinagar, was razed to the ground following a fierce gunbattle between the militants and the security forces after a stand-off for about a month on May 11, 1995.

The shrine of Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali, also known as Alamdar-e-Kashmir, is a highly revered shrine. It is thronged by thousands of pilgrims on the annual Urs of the saint. The construction of the gutted shrine, which is  expected to be completed by July, was taken up in 1996.

Elsewhere in the valley, at least six persons, including four militants, were killed and six injured in separate incidents in the valley since yesterday.

The police said two unidentified militants and a civilian were killed in an encounter between militants and the security forces at Dhama in Kupwara district of north Kashmir yesterday. One civilian was also injured in an exchange of fire between the militants and the security forces.

A residential house where the militants were hiding was also gutted in the exchange of fire, the police said. Two AK rifles, six magazines and a wireless set were recovered from the site of the encounter.

Two unidentified militants were killed in an encounter with the security forces at Rangwar in the Chowkibal area of Kupwara district yesterday. Till the last reports came in, the operation was in progress, the police said.

A foreign mercenary Liaqat Khan, was killed in an encounter with the security forces at Kumkari in Kupwara district. Further details are awaited.

Six persons four civilians and two security force personnel were injured when the militants hurled a grenade towards a patrol at Shopian town of Pulwama district of south Kashmir last evening.Back

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