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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April 2005, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Bomb blast hits Kashmir bus route
Security search in Srinagar
Security is tight after militant threats
A bomb blast on the route of a landmark bus service in Kashmir has wounded at least seven people, police say.

The explosion, at Hanjivira on India's side of the Line of Control, came two days before the first buses are due to link the divided territory.

Two other landmines on the route were defused, police said. A dry run for the bus was secretly conducted on Monday.

Militants opposing Indian rule have told people to boycott the bus and authorities have tightened security.

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The bus service is seen as an important signal of improving ties between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

Families in Kashmir have been divided since the first war in 1947.

Police said most of those injured in the blast at Hanjivira, about 35km (22 miles) north of Srinagar, were road workers.

The two landmines, weighing 70kg (150lb) and 60kg, were found and defused at nearby Palhalan, officials said.

Elsewhere in the troubled territory, police said troops had killed three militants in southern Pulwama district. The militants said nine soldiers died.

Passenger fears

Shortly after Tuesday's blast, four Kashmir militant groups renewed their warning to people not to use the bus service, which will link Srinagar, in the Indian sector, with Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

Map showing areas of Kashmir controlled by India and Pakistan

In a statement, the groups said those wishing to travel to Pakistan-administered Kashmir should use the Wagah border crossing in the Indian state of Punjab.

"If you board the bus and strengthen Indian hands you will writhe in blood and dust," it said.

Militants insist they are not opposed to the reunion of divided families but accuse Pakistan of a climb-down in allowing the service, which they say undermines their campaign against Indian rule.

A number of passengers on the service have been given police protection after the militants said they had an initial list of those planning to travel.

The passenger list has not been officially released for security reasons.

A dummy run for the bus service was conducted under a veil of secrecy on Monday - on a stretch of road between Baramullah to the west of Srinagar and the Line of Control that separates the two sectors of Kashmir.

On the other side of the LoC, the authorities also conducted a test run between Muzaffarabad and Chakothi.

Sabotage ruled out

Last week, authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir declared the bus route safe.

Round-the-clock surveillance has been mounted on the road from Srinagar to the frontier district of Uri.

There are also regular patrols and anti-sabotage checks along the road.

Hundreds of people with suspected links to militants have been arrested and others told to report their whereabouts to police.

The bus link was announced in February and is the latest move in a peace process that began at the start of last year.

Buses have not run on the route since the first war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir in 1947.


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Innocent bystanders caught in the blast



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