May 2003 News

India Destroys Big Rebel Camp In Kashmir

23 May 2003
The Washington Post

Surankote: India said Friday it had destroyed a large mountain base of Muslim guerrillas inside Kashmir but noted there was no sign yet that Pakistan had stopped supporting the rebels. More than 60 guerrillas, most of them from Pakistan-based groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, have been killed so far in one of the biggest air and ground operations launched by the Indian army in recent years, a senior officer said. A cache of weapons, including anti-personnel mines, and medical supplies, rations and satellite and mobile phones were found in a network of bunkers and a command headquarters hidden deep in the mountains. 'This was a classic guerrilla mountain base, secure and remote,' said Major General Hardev Lidder who commanded an operation that began last month. 'We think there could have been between 300 to 350 terrorists' he told reporters flown into the remote region where the seized weapons, diaries and video footage of the camps were shown. Some of the bunkers were in snow-covered terrain around 13,120 feet above sea level, the army said. 'They had lived through the winter, it's only some footprints on the snow that gave them away,' said another officer who took part in the operation. Indian officials said the mountain base, which was used by the Pakistan-based Lashkar- e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad groups and stocked by supplies from Pakistan, was proof that Islamabad continued to fuel the revolt. Pakistan denies direct involvement in the revolt in Kashmir, India's only Muslim majority state, but says it gives moral support to the Kashmiri people in what it calls their struggle for self- determination. The renewed offensive against the guerrillas comes at a time when India and Pakistan have ordered restoration of diplomatic ties and air links after a 10-month military standoff over Kashmir. But face-to-face talks between the nuclear-armed rivals who have twice gone to war over Kashmir are not expected in the near future because of New Delhi's insistence that Islamabad stop rebel incursions and dismantle training camps which it says exist in Pakistan. Pakistan has denied any infiltration from its soil and sought international monitoring of the Line of Control which separates the two armies in Kashmir.


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