World Bulletin/News Desk
Nine police and poll officials were killed in India in two attacks on Thursday, one in a region hit by a Maoist insurgency and the other in occupied Kashmir, the mainly-Muslim region where many voters are boycotting a general election.
Eight police and election officials were killed when assailants - that police suspect were left-wing rebels - blew up a bus they were travelling on in Dumka, in the eastern state of Jharkhand, police spokesman Anurag Gupta said.
Five of the dead were police. Five others were wounded.
Jharkhand forms part of a belt running down eastern India that is prone to attacks by rebels who target politicians and businesses they believe are colluding to ruin the livelihoods of native tribal groups.
In the second incident, unidentified gunmen opened fire on polling staff in south Kashmir’s Shopian area, killing an election officer and wounding five people, among them two Indian paramilitary soldiers.
“The polling party was returning from the polling station at around 6 p.m. (1230GMT), when they came under militant fire at Nagbal area and one of the polling officials was killed and five others were critically injured,” Deputy Inspector General of South Kashmir Police, Vijay Kumar, told Anadolu Agency.
The Central Reserve Police Force spokesperson, Kishore Prasad, confirmed the wounding of two police officers during the attack.
“One of them has a bullet injury in his abdomen and another has suffered a leg injury due to a bullet,” Prasad said.
Three days before the polls, unidentified gunmen shot dead the head of a village council and his son, and another village chief in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on April 21 in what is believed to have been an attempt to intimidate people from voting.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both.
The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in the IHK have been fighting against Indian occupation for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far.
Voting on Thursday was the sixth of 10 rounds in India's five-week-election, with ballots cast in states including Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. These regions could hold the balance of power if Narendra Modi's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies fail to win an outright majority.Last Mod: 24 Nisan 2014, 23:53