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Sunday, 14 July, 2002, 01:16 GMT 02:16 UK
Kashmir victims tell of attack horror
Children recovering in hospital
Many of the victims were women and children
When a small group of suspected Islamic militants threw grenades into a shanty town on the outskirts of Jammu, many of their unknowing victims were busy listening to the radio.

Witnesses say the first grenade exploded while the slum dwellers were sitting around their mud-and-thatch huts, following India's cricket match against England in London.

Residents fleeing the town
Residents fled to the sound of gunfire
Dozens of people rushed to find out what had happened, only to be killed by subsequent blasts.

"We were following the match when there was the boom. Everyone thought there was bomb explosion and rushed there," said Babloo, a 17-year-old balloon vendor, who suffered two bullet wounds in the leg.

In all, at least 25 people died and more than 30 were injured - the worst attack since a nearby army camp was targeted in May, igniting tensions between India and Pakistan.


According to witnesses, the attackers entered the shanty town of Qasim Nagar dressed in the robes of sadhus (holy men) and carrying bags.

They exploded several grenades before heading for the temples, pulling Kalashnikov rifles out their bags and firing indiscriminately.

People began running from the temples in panic after hearing the gunfire, said witness Vicky Malhotra.

A prolonged shootout followed between the attackers and Indian security forces.

The attackers are suspected to be Islamic militants
The main hospital in Jammu was reportedly flung into chaos, with police continually wheeling in dead bodies or injured people.

The BBC's correspondent in Jammu, Binu Joshi, says the relief and rescue operation was not an easy job. "There was confusion and chaos all around," she said.

The electricity had been switched off and police were forced to stop all regular traffic, setting up checkpoints and barricading roads leading to the area.

Many residents simply fled the area on foot amidst the ongoing crackle of gunfire between the troops and the attackers.

Witnesses said tensions were running high, with Jammu residents accusing police of not providing enough security.


Although no group have claimed responsibility, local police suspect the pro-Pakistan militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba as being behind the attack.

Despite soldiers and police combing the area after the shootout ended, the attackers may have fled, an officer admitted.

Our correspondent says the shanty town could well have been chosen for the attack because it is open and desolate area, so the militants could easily escape.

Another suggested motive is that the attackers wanted to terrorise the mainly Hindu slum dwellers - possibly to coincide with the important Hindu pilgrimage to Amarnath in south Kashmir beginning in a few days' time.

Security was already tight in preparation for the pilgrimage, our correspondent says. But Saturday's attack will put India's police officials even more on their guard.

The BBC's Jill McGivering
"The death toll is still rising"
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