SRINAGAR, India – Rescuers recovered the bodies of 11 people in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday, a day after multiple avalanches hit their vehicles in the Himalayan region, officials said.
Separately, four police were killed Saturday when rebels fighting against Indian rule in disputed Kashmir detonated a bomb on a street they were patrolling, police said.
Thirteen people were swept away by three near-simultaneous avalanches at three places in a stretch of about 6 miles on a mountainous road in Kupawara district on Friday.
Police officer Shamsher Hussain said about 200 police, army and civilian rescuers recovered the bodies of 11 people.
Two people were rescued alive and were in stable condition at a hospital, he said.
Avalanches and landslides are common in Kashmir and have caused heavy death tolls for the Indian and Pakistani armies camped near the mountainous and forested highly militarized Line of Control that divides Kashmir between the nuclear-armed rivals.
At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in three avalanches last year, and in 2012 a massive avalanche in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir killed 140 people, including 129 Pakistani soldiers.
Also Saturday, at least four police officers were killed after rebels detonated a massive bomb on a street the police were patrolling in the northwestern town of Sopore, police said.
Streets were deserted and shops and businesses closed for a strike when the massive blast struck. The town, famous for apple orchards, is observing a shutdown on the 25th anniversary of a massacre in which government forces killed at least 47 people after a paramilitary soldier died in a rebel attack.
The strike was called by separatist leaders who challenge India's sovereignty over Kashmir. The town was already on high alert with hundreds of police and paramilitary soldiers patrolling the area in anticipation of anti-India protests and clashes.
Police said at least half a dozen shuttered shops suffered extensive damage in the blast, which was remotely detonated.
The Jash-e-Mohammed militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the English-language Greater Kashmir newspaper.
Reinforcements of police and paramilitary soldiers rushed to seal off the area.
India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety. Rebel groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the region, and most people support the rebels' cause against Indian rule while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown since 1989.