SRINAGAR, India — Suspected rebels lobbed a grenade at a motorcade of a local government minister in Indian-controlled Kashmir Thursday, killing three civilians and wounding 30 others, police said.

Police said the attack occurred as the motorcade passed though the southern Tral town. Three pedestrians, including a teenage girl, were killed and 20 others wounded, said police director-general S.P. Vaid. He said seven paramilitary soldiers, two police and a government engineer were also hurt.

The minister escaped unhurt.

No rebel group fighting against Indian rule has claimed responsibility for the attack. Reinforcements of government forces cordoned off the area to hunt for the attackers.

Kashmir’s largest rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen, condemned the attack and blamed Indian agencies for carrying it out “to defame the Kashmir freedom movement,” according to the group’s statement. It said the attack was aimed at creating a wedge between militants and the local population.

Kashmir is divided between the nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan, and both claim the region in entirety. They have fought two wars over its control since they won independence from Britain in 1947.

Rebel groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

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AIJAZ HUSSAIN
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