SRINAGAR, India – A female bomber blew herself up Thursday minutes before an army convoy was to pass on a key highway in Indian Kashmir (search), the first such attack by a woman in the region's Islamic separatist conflict, police said.
A militant group claimed five soldiers were killed in the blast, but police denied this, saying there were no other casualties.
The explosion shattered the glass windows of several building in the area in Awantipora, a town nearly 20 miles south of Srinagar (search), the capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state, Nissar Ahmad, a police officer, told The Associated Press.
While Kashmiri militants fighting for independence from India (search) have carried out at least 30 suicide bombings since the outbreak of the insurgency in 1989, this was the first time a woman has carried out such an attack there, said Javed Makhdoomi, the inspector-general of state police.
The attack was about 80 miles south of the areas of Kashmir affected by Saturday's earthquake.
A person claiming to be a spokesman for the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in a call to the Current News Service, a Srinagar-based news agency.
The caller identified the attacker as Hafsa, a member of the women's wing of the group. Many people in the region go by just one name.
The caller claimed the blast had destroyed a government vehicle, killing five soldiers. Police denied this.
Nearly a dozen Islamic rebel groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan, and 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.