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06 April 2005

United States Condemns Attack on Kashmiri Bus Route

Militants attack passengers awaiting historic bus trip from India to Pakistan

The United States condemned in the strongest possible terms the April 6 attack by two Islamic militants on a complex in Srinagar, India, housing passengers scheduled to make a historic bus trip across the divided province of Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian side to the Pakistani side on April 7.

“This was a wanton act of terror on a powerful symbol of rapprochement between India and Pakistan, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in an April 6 press release.

The bus route between Srinigar, India, and Muzzafarabad, Pakistan, is the first link across the contentious line of control since India and Pakistan split the province in 1947.

The agreement to open bus service between the two cities is a result of peace negotiations undertaken by Pakistan and India in January 2004.  Although many Kashmiris welcome the service as a step toward reuniting their divided province, Islamic militants reject it and have threatened to turn the first bus into a coffin.

Six people were injured in the attack and the two gunmen were killed, but none of the passengers awaiting the April 7 departure was hurt.  Indian and Pakistani officials stated that the service would begin on schedule with buses leaving simultaneously from both Srinigar and Muzzafarabad.

Boucher said, “We applaud the leaders of India and Pakistan for their statesmanship and efforts to reduce tensions. They will continue to have our strong support as they resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue.

Following is the text of the State Department press release:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
April 6, 2005

Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman

United States Condemns Attack on Kashmir Bus Route

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the April 6 attack on the bus complex in Srinagar.  This was a wanton act of terror on a powerful symbol of rapprochement between India and Pakistan. 

Ordinary Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control strongly support this bus line that will restore linkages between them for the first time since 1947.  We must not allow attempts to frustrate their hopes to succeed.

We applaud the leaders of India and Pakistan for their statesmanship and efforts to reduce tensions. They will continue to have our strong support as they resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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