SRINAGAR, India – A car bomb blew up an army jeep on Wednesday, killing five soldiers and at least one civilian and injuring 20 others near a school in an elite neighborhood of Indian Kashmir's capital, police said.
Indian authorities said a suicide bomber rammed the car into the jeep. But a Pakistan-based militant group that claimed responsibility for the blast said a bomb was hidden in a parked car and triggered by remote-control.
India's government called the attack an effort to derail peace talks between India and Pakistan, but promised to push ahead with the dialogue with its neighbor and rival of six decades.
No children were hurt inside the Burn Hall School (search) in Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state (search), senior police officer Hasseb Ahmed said. However, the blast knocked down some of the school perimeter and shattered windows in a neighborhood filled with homes of top government officials, Ahmed said.
The crushed remains of the attack car lay on the leafy avenue near shreds of flesh and the bodies of soldiers. The severely damaged army jeep lay toppled on a side. Bits of the engine, metal and glass shards and other debris lay on the blood-splattered road.
"The earth shook and all the window panes were shattered. I was inside and I rushed out. There was smoke everywhere. I saw the bodies," an unidentified witness told a local television news program.
A caller identifying himself as Salim Hashmi, spokesman of the Pakistan-based Hezb-ul Mujahedeen (search) — Kashmir's largest militant group — claimed responsibility for the blast in a call to a local news agency, Current News Service. He denied a suicide attacker detonated the bomb and claimed it was set in the parked car.
Police did not find the body of an attacker, but said they believed it would have been blown to pieces.
Pakistan-based Islamic militants have been fighting Indian security forces in the state since 1989 to carve out a separate homeland or merge the Himalayan region into Pakistan. More than 66,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
India accuses Pakistan of aiding and arming the militants at training camps on the Pakistani side of Kashmir — a charge Islamabad denies. Both India and Pakistan claim the divided Himalayan region in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.