A five-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl are killed in the blast, which occurred a day after four people were shot by suspected rebels.

A blast in a village in Indian-administered Kashmir killed two children and injured five other civilians, a day after attackers fired bullets into a row of houses in the same area, killing at least four, police said.

The blast occurred near one of the homes attacked Monday night in Dhangri village in the southern Rajouri district.

A five-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl were killed in the blast, officials said, adding that the injured were being treated at a hospital.

On Sunday evening, two gunmen opened fire indiscriminately on three houses in Dhangri, police officer Mukesh Singh told reporters. He said four civilians were killed and five others injured.

Police blamed armed attackers for carrying out the two attacks on Dhangri, which is close to the highly militarized control line that marks the disputed Himalayan region between India and Pakistan.

It is unclear whether the explosive was left behind by the attackers who struck on Sunday night. Authorities rushed to the area with police and soldiers in search of the attackers.

Dhangri is a Hindu-majority village and all the victims of the two incidents were Hindus.

Hundreds of people gathered in Dhangri on Monday to protest the killings, chanting slogans denouncing the attackers.

Protest against violence in Kashmir
Members of right-wing Hindu groups protest the killings in Jammu, Indian-administered Kashmir [Channi Anand/AP]

They lined up the bodies of the victims in the main square and refused to cremate them, while demanding that the region’s top New Delhi administrator, 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 on Monday, Sinha visited the village and met the families of the victims.

India and Pakistan each claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety.

Rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi’s regime since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebels’ goal of unifying the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Indian officials said at least 172 suspected rebels and 26 military personnel were killed in fighting last year.

New Delhi regularly blames Pakistan for supporting the rebels, a claim denied by Islamabad, which says it is only providing diplomatic support to Kashmir’s struggle for self-determination.

In 2019, the Hindu Nationalist Government of India, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was scrapped Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, which granted partial autonomy to Indian-administered Kashmir.

The move of 2019 – and beyond laws and policies – have strengthened anti-Indian sentiment in the valley and led to a wave of attacks by suspected rebels against the minority communities in the region, mainly the Hindus.

Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government troops have been killed in the decades-long conflict.

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