A grenade exploded on Thursday, August 13, in a mosque in Jammu and Kashmir, wounding 10 people, police said, the first such incident in 14 years in a region where militant violence has spiked recently.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast in the southern district of Shopian in the Himalayan region. Police said they were on guard against outbursts of public anger over the incident, but were awaiting more details.
“People were coming out of the mosque after morning prayers when the blast occurred,” a police officer said.
India is tightening security nationwide ahead of celebrations this weekend to mark independence from Britain, particularly in Kashmir, where the event is usually marked by a shutdown and protests against Indian rule.
Officials say there have been growing signs of young people in Muslim-majority Kashmir adopting more extreme views, although violence is nowhere near the peak of the militancy in the 1990s.
Attacks on mosques have been almost unknown in the valley. Although, at times, Indian forces have laid siege to militants holed up in shrines. Four women were killed and scores wounded when a grenade exploded in Charar-e-Sharief mosque in central Kashmir in 2001.
India has long accused neighbouring Pakistan of pushing separatist Muslim militants into India’s portion of Kashmir to foment revolt in the country’s only Muslim-majority region, which both nations claim.
Muslim Pakistan says it only gives moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.
Shopian, the site of the blast, is known for a strong presence of militants. On Wednesday, August 12, militants attacked an army patrol in the area, wounding a soldier.