December 2003 News

LoC calm but violence claims 54 lives in a week

3 December 2003
The News International

SRINAGAR: The heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) was calm on Wednesday as a ceasefire between the Indian and Pakistani armies entered a second week, but 54 people were killed in the occupied Kashmir during the period, police said.The toll includes 12 people killed overnight and Wednesday in a number of gunbattles, a police spokesman said. Apart from the killings, at least 56 people were injured during the past week inside the occupied Kashmir in attacks by Kashmiri militants, the police said. The ceasefire, part of tentative peace overtures between rivals India and Pakistan, took effect at midnight on November 25 and was still holding a week later, the police said Wednesday.There has been no violation of the ceasefire by either side since it began, a police officer told AFP. 'The guns are absolutely silent along the normally volatile LoC,' Mohammed Shafiq, a police officer in Uri border town said by phone. The police said 14 of the deaths since the truce began were policemen and soldiers who died in ambushes. In one attack on Tuesday, 19 policemen, including the deputy police chief of southern Anantnag district, were injured.Indian troops have shot dead 27 militants since the ceasefire, while three former rebels were allegedly killed by the militants. Ten civilians, including a worker of the region's main opposition National Conference, were killed in the period, the police said. India's army chief in the occupied Kashmir, Lieutenant General Nirbhay Sharma, last week said there would be no let-up in operations against militants, despite the ceasefire. Any decision on a ceasefire in operations against rebels would need to be taken by the government, Sharma said.Meanwhile, the militant groups have voiced their anger over the border truce, with the Jamiat-ul-Mujahedin saying it was merely helping India fence the LoC. Witnesses have said that with the guns remaining silent, the Indian army was intensifying its drive to fence the LoC to prevent the alleged infiltration of militants into the held Kashmir.


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