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Kashmir Minister Escapes Attack

January 14, 2001

SRINAGAR, India (AP) _ Attackers fired two grenades at the chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir on Sunday, but police said he escaped the apparent assassination attempt unharmed.

One of the rifle-launched grenades exploded 100 feet from Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah as he spoke at a bridge inauguration in downtown Srinagar, India, police said. Another exploded on the roof of a nearby house.

The grenades were fired from a distance and no suspects were caught, police said. They said they suspected separatist militants who want Kashmir to secede from India.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. But as the grenades exploded, frightened people fell on the ground and tried to crawl to safety. Police said some people were injured in the panic that ensued.

About 700 people were gathered to watch Abdullah inaugurate the Habba Kadal bridge over the Jhelum River. They included government officials and members of Abdullah’s National Conference party.

After the grenades exploded, security personnel fired into the air for several minutes, adding to the panic.

Dozens of militant groups have been fighting Indian forces for 11 years to separate Kashmir from India. More than 30,000 people have been killed since the fighting started in 1989.

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