Suspected rebels detonated a car bomb outside a heavily guarded military airport on Friday in Indian Kashmir's main city, while three persons were killed in two separate gunbattles in the area, officials said. A taxi on its way to Srinagar's military airport blew up few meters (yards) short of the heavily barricaded entrance on Friday but no one was hurt, said army officer Col. Sehgal. Many people in the region go by just one name. Srinagar is the summer capital of the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir. Sehgal said the taxi, called by an officer posted at the airfield, stopped before the gate and the driver approached the check post to get clearance to enter the security area when the car blew up.
Preliminary investigations revealed that an unknown person had asked the driver for a lift and had gotten off before reaching the airport, leaving behind two apple cartons containing the bomb, Sehgal said. The driver has been taken into custody for questioning. Meanwhile, in the Ashipathri village, about 125 kilometers (77 miles) north of Srinagar, soldiers killed two suspected rebels during a brief firefight, Sehgal said.
Ashipathri is close to the Line of Control, the cease-fire line that separates the Indian and Pakistani portions of Kashmir. The two countries have fought two wars over the Himalayan territory. Also Friday, suspected rebels attacked a paramilitary patrol in Sopore town, opening fire and throwing a grenade. A soldier was killed and six people including three civilians were wounded, police officer Junaid Ahmad said.
The troops retaliated forcing the attackers to take shelter in a nearby government building. The fighting was still going on, Ahmad said. Sopore is a town about 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Srinagar. A dozen or so Islamic militant groups have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir for either independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan since 1989. More than 66,000 people have been killed in the violence, reports the AP. N.U.