Bomb Blast Kills 15 in Kashmir

A bomb hidden in a pickup truck exploded in a bustling town in Indian-controlled Kashmir (search) on Monday, killing 15 people, including the suspected attacker, and injuring at least 60 others, police said.

The blast uprooted trees, shattered two cars and damaged a dozen shops, a school and a post office near a camp of security forces in the town of Pulwama, according to Deputy Inspector General of Police Owes Ahmad.

At least eight of the injured were in critical condition, Ahmad said.

Eleven civilians, three paramilitary soldiers and the suspected attacker were killed.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Nearly 88 pounds of explosives were hidden in the pickup truck, which had been carrying bricks and sand for construction of a perimeter wall around the area, about 30 miles south of Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir (search) state, Deputy Superintendent of Police Imtiyaz Ahmad told The Associated Press.

An AK-47 rifle was recovered near the body of the unidentified attacker found in the truck, he said.

Shortly after the explosion, angry residents came out into the streets protesting delays in rescue efforts of the wounded. Police fired tear gas and warning shots in the air to control the protesters.

Four protesters were injured in a scuffle with police.

A hard-line pro-Pakistan faction of a Kashmiri separatist alliance led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani (search) called for a general strike Tuesday to protest the attack.

More than a dozen Islamic militant rebel groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. At least 66,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict since 1989.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over control of Kashmir, since they won independence from Britain in 1947. Both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety.

Peace initiatives by India and Pakistan in the past year and a half have eased tensions in Kashmir. Nine separatist leaders are visiting Pakistan as part of efforts to settle the dispute.