SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Two children were killed and five other civilians wounded in a blast in a village in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday, a day after assailants sprayed bullets toward a row of homes, leaving at least four dead, police said.
The blast occurred near one of the houses targeted overnight in Dhangri village in southern Rajouri district. A 5-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl died in the blast. The injured were being treated at a hospital.
On Sunday night, two gunmen indiscriminately opened fire at three houses in Dhangri, top police officer Mukesh Singh told reporters. He said four civilians were killed and five others were wounded.
Police blamed militants fighting against Indian rule for carrying out the two attacks at Dhangri, which is close to the highly militarized Line of Control that divides the disputed region between India and Pakistan.
It was unclear whether the explosive was left behind by the attackers.
Authorities rushed police and soldiers to the area and were searching for the attackers.
Dhangri is a Hindu-majority village and all the victims were Hindus.
Hundreds of people assembled in Dhangri to protest the killings, chanting slogans denouncing the attackers. They kept the bodies of the victims in a line in the main square and refused to cremate them while demanding that New Delhi's top administrator in the region, Manoj Sinha, visit the village.
Nearly three dozen people in the southern city of Jammu also protested the killings that Sinha condemned as a “cowardly terror attack.”
“I assure the people that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished,” he said.
Later Monday, Sinha visited the village and met victims' families.
India and Pakistan each claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety.
Rebels in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi’s rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
India insists the Kashmir militancy is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.