JAMMU, India – Guerrillas in Indian-controlled Kashmir opened fire on activists of the pro-India governing party Wednesday and were suspected in the bombing of a bus heading for a Hindu pilgrimage on a day of violence that left at least 10 dead, police and hospital officials said.
The attacks came a day after voters went to polls in the third of four phases of Jammu-Kashmir state elections, which separatist Islamic militants have vowed to disrupt saying they are rigged in favor of pro-India politicians.
India also was marking the birthday Wednesday of its independence leader, Mohandas K. Gandhi, who repeatedly called for unity between India's Hindus and Muslims. He was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in 1948, shortly after the partition of India and Pakistan.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attacks, but police suspected Muslim militants.
In the first attack, a bomb exploded on a bus filled with Hindu pilgrims after it left Jammu, the state's winter capital, killing at least two passengers and injuring 22 others, police and hospital officials said.
The worshippers were bound for the starting point of a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Hindu goddess of power, Vaishno Devi.
Hours later, five paramilitary soldiers were killed when suspected insurgents triggered an explosive device while the soldiers were checking a road for land mines in the village of Pashtoon, about 40 miles south of Srinagar, a police officer said on condition of anonymity.
Voting for the state legislature was held in that area on Tuesday.
Also Wednesday, suspected guerrillas shot and killed three political activists with the ruling National Conference party in Haihama, a small town about 65 miles north of Srinagar, the officer said.
Wednesday's attack on the bus was the second in as many days blamed on suspected Islamic militants trying to disrupt state legislature elections in the disputed Himalayan state claimed by both India and Pakistan.
Nine people were killed in a raid on a bus near the Pakistan border in Kashmir's Kathua district on Tuesday, just before polls opened for the third round of state assembly elections.
Six paramilitary soldiers were also killed in an explosion Tuesday.
The militants have waged a 12-year insurgency for the independence of Indian-controlled Kashmir or its merger with Muslim Pakistan. More than 60,000 people have been killed and thousands are missing.