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RAW casualty in blast

Jammu, Sept. 21: Four persons, including an intelligence officer, were killed and 27 wounded when militants triggered an explosion opposite a bar in the crowded single-lane market in Rajouri this afternoon.

The blast, one of the most deadly witnessed in the town, about 160 km from here, shook the market around 12.30 pm, killing two persons, Kaushal Sharma and Vinod Sharma, on the spot.

Two of the wounded succumbed to injuries in the Rajouri district hospital. Among them was Avinash Dutta, assistant commissioner of the Special Bureau, part of the intelligence agency RAW.

Seven others in a critical condition have been shifted to Jammuís medical college and hospital.

After the blast, the smoke cleared over blood, scattered limbs, writhing wounded persons and the two lifeless bodies in the narrow congested market lane. The injured received attention once panic and chaos subsided after 20 minutes, witnesses said.

S.M. Sahai, the deputy inspector-general, Rajouri-Poonch range, said the explosive device was hidden in a VCR. Militants have earlier used television sets and LPG cylinders to trigger blasts in the same market.

The attack seems to have been aimed at the Royal Bar in the market as the VCR-bomb was placed across the lane. Militants have targeted the bar earlier, too.

Liquor vends are high on the hate-list of the militants, who believe consumption of alcohol goes against the teachings of Islam.

Though no group has claimed responsibility, Sahai suspects the Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the group that made similar attacks across the Kashmir Valley in the initial years of militancy.

Police feel the presence of the intelligence officer in the market was a coincidence, but a conclusion can be drawn on whether he was a target only after investigations.

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