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Bomb Kills at Least 12 on Indian Bus

August 9, 1989

KARNAL, India (AP) _ A bomb blew apart a New Delhi-bound bus near this northern town Wednesday, killing at least 12 people and injuring 35, police said.

No one took responsibility for the attack. However, Sikh militants trying to form an independent state have planted many such bombs in the past.

Authorities said they believed a time bomb was used in the attack.

The blast tore through the state-owned bus two miles outside Karnal in the northern state of Haryana, Press Trust of India news agency said.

″I thought it was a head-on collision with another bus,″ said passenger O.P. Lal, who was treated for shock. ″Then I saw doors and window blown apart.″

It was not known how many people were on the bus, which normally carries at least 60 passengers.

Nine people were killed in the blast and three others died at a hospital in Karnal, said police inspector Rajinder Singh. The Press Trust of India said 18 people were killed.

The bus, traveling from the resort town of Kasauli to New Delhi, was just entering Karnal, about 95 miles north of New Delhi.

″If the explosion occurred five minutes later, the bus would have been in the middle of Karnal and scores of people would have died,″ said police inspector Mehar Lal.

The bomb probably was put on board at Ambala, about 25 miles north of Karnal, where the bus had stopped for a few minutes, he said.

″Four passengers got off there,″ he said. ″Also, the journey from Ambala (to Karnal) is about an hour, and most of these time bombs are set for 60 minutes,″ Lal said.

Sikh militants launched a campaign in 1982 to set up an independent nation in Punjab, where Sikhs hold a slight majority over Hindus.

The violence has been largely concentrated there, but the militants have mounted periodic attacks in nearby states and New Delhi.

At least 1,116 people have been killed by Sikh radicals in Punjab so far this year, according to police reports.

On Tuesday, three Sikh militants killed six people when they sprayed gunfire on a crowd leaving a movie theater in Jammy, a city in Jammu-Kashmir neighboring the Punjab, authorities said.

The army was called out as a precautionary measure Wednesday and an indefinite curfew imposed there, city commissioner Vijay Bakaya said.

Many Sikhs, who make up 2 percent of India’s 880 million people, say they have been discriminated against by the nation’s 82 percent Hindu majority.

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