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Civilians targeted in Kashmir grenade attack

Assailants threw grenades at a bus stop and a marketplace bustling with Muslims assembling for Friday prayers, wounding 52 people _ the highest civilian casualty toll in Indian-controlled Kashmir since a bomb attack on the state assembly building last year.

Police and Jammu-Kashmir state officials blamed Islamic militants who have been fighting since 1989 for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Attackers threw four or five grenades into a busy market in Shopiyan, 30 miles south of Srinagar, the state's summer capital, police said. They said 35 people were injured in the midmorning attack, all civilians.

Five hours later, at least two grenades exploded at a bus stop in Anantnag, about 35 miles south of Srinagar, wounding 15 civilians and two paramilitary troops.

The civilian casualties were the highest in a single day in Kashmir since Oct. 1, when a car bomb and gunbattle at the state assembly building killed 38 people and wounded about 60.

The blasts in Shopiyan ripped through the market in the heart of the fruit-trading town as hundreds of Muslims assembled an hour before prayers. Mohammed Shaban, who was wounded, said civilians appeared to have been targeted.

"There were no security forces present. We were going about our daily market routine," Shaban, 55, said from his hospital bed in Srinagar.

No one claimed responsibility for either attack.

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