SRINAGAR, India (AP) - Suspected Muslim separatist rebels killed nine people in two separate attacks in Indian Kashmir on Thursday, as authorities imposed a curfew on a main city in the region to clamp down on a Hindu nationalist protest, police said.
Five people, including three children, were killed and 15 wounded when suspected rebels threw a hand grenade near a parked bus in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir’s biggest city, said police spokesman Prabhakar Tripathi.
The grenade exploded when a group of migrant laborers were collecting bus tickets to travel to their home states, Tripathi said.
In a separate attack believed to be in retaliation against a former militant, four members of a family were gunned down by unidentified assailants in Marmath, a village 145 miles (230 kilometers) southwest of Srinagar, said Hemant Lohia, a senior police officer.
Lohia said the killers were separatist rebels who attacked the house of a former rebel, killing him and his wife, daughter and his nephew.
No militant group has claimed responsibility for the two attacks.
Meanwhile, officials imposed a curfew on the city of Jammu after Hindu activists called for a major strike there to protest a recent government decision to cancel a land transfer to a Hindu shrine.
Authorities shuttered businesses and schools, kept traffic off the roads and told residents to stay indoors. Jammu is a predominantly Hindu city in India’s only Muslim-majority state.
The unrest in Jammu was sparked by the death of a Hindu protester Wednesday who collapsed during a rally against a recent government decision to cancel a land transfer to a Hindu shrine.
The Jammu protests dates back to the state government’s decision last month to transfer 99 acres (40 hectares) of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, a trust running a revered Hindu shrine.
Muslim Kashmiris denounced the land transfer as an attempt to build Hindu settlements in the area and alter the demographics in India’s only Muslim-majority state. They responded with some of the largest protests against Indian rule in nearly two decades.
After more than a week of demonstrations, the state government revoked the order - angering Hindus who staged protests of their own in Jammu.
At least six people were killed and hundreds wounded in protests over the land controversy.
The Amarnath shrine is a cave that houses a large icicle revered by Hindus as an incarnation of the Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and regeneration. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus are currently visiting the cave on an annual pilgrimage.
In the past, Islamic separatists have targeted the pilgrimage, charging that Hindu-majority India uses the annual religious event as a political statement to bolster its claim over the Himalayan region, which is divided between Pakistan and India but claimed by both.