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15 killed in Pulwama car blast

THE AGONY: Relatives of those seriously injured in the Pulwama car bomb blast outside the Srinagar hospital on Monday. — Photo: Nissar Ahmad

THE AGONY: Relatives of those seriously injured in the Pulwama car bomb blast outside the Srinagar hospital on Monday. — Photo: Nissar Ahmad  

2 schoolchildren and three CRPF jawans among the victims; 60 injured

Shujaat Bukhari

PULWAMA: At least 15 persons, including two schoolchildren and three Central Reserve Police Force jawans, were killed and 60 others injured when an explosives-laden car blew up at a market here on Monday.

The blast caused extensive damage to scores of buildings and vehicles. No militant organisation has claimed responsibility.

Witnesses told The Hindu that there was a deafening blast and the area was splattered with blood. "The explosion took place around 11.45 a.m. The car was flung into the air and its parts were thrown around," said Mudasir, who was some distance from the blast site. People were stunned and for quite some time no one came forward to help the injured.

Some of the injured were shifted to the district hospital in the town and the others taken to Srinagar, 35 km away.

RDX used?

Deputy Inspector-General (South Kashmir) Sheikh Owais Ahmed said, "The explosive, which we believe was RDX and weighed not less than 40 kg, must have been kept in the car along with an improvised explosive device." A shopping complex, a school and a post office were in the area, where the car was parked.

The two schoolchildren, who were killed, were taking their examinations, Mr. Sheikh said. The school building was damaged as also a brick-laden truck passing by.

Gory scenes

The site presented a horrifying picture, with buildings completely damaged, vehicles mangled and trees uprooted. There was blood all over and sandals, shoes and vehicle parts were strewn around. Textbooks and writing pads lay scattered in the school.

A witness said at least 10 shopkeepers lost their lives. Half of the body of a shopkeeper, who was on the second floor, was blown up and the rest was found in the shop. Many others lost their limbs, Nazir Ahmed, a resident, said. This was the most devastating blast in the town, he said.

Police firing

Hundreds of residents took to the streets and raised slogans against the police and the security forces for not attending to the injured immediately.The police resorted to a lathicharge, burst teargas shells and later opened fire to disperse the protesters.

The town wore a deserted look and police and paramilitary forces were deployed.

In the SMHS hospital in Srinagar, tension prevailed due to a shortage of doctors to treat the injured. Junior doctors were on strike against pay anomalies. Relatives raised anti-government slogans even as senior doctors and paramedics attended on the victims.

A spokesman of the Awantipore-based Victor Force of the Army told the local news agency, CNS, that the Hizb-ul Mujahideen was responsible for the explosion. "We have come to know this by intercepting their communication."

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