Five Rebels Killed After Kashmir Mosque Siege
3 November 2004
Srinagar: Indian soldiers shot dead five militants who had sought refuge in a mosque in disputed Kashmir after a gunbattle with troops on Wednesday, an army spokesman said. The incident occurred in a district about 45 km (30 miles) south of Srinagar, summer capital of India's only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir. 'All the five militants have been killed inside the mosque. The siege ended and the mosque was not damaged,' army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel V.K. Batra told Reuters. He said the five were shot through the windows of the mosque when they tried to fire at security forces. There was no independent verification of the army's statement. Rebels fighting against Indian rule in the region frequently seek shelter in mosques when they are chased by security forces, who generally do not enter places of worship to avoid angering residents. Indian security agencies say there has been a decline in separatist violence in Kashmir this year compared with 2003, largely due to a crackdown by troops. The decline coincides with a peace process launched by India and Pakistan last year to resolve a wide range of disputes, including Kashmir, a picturesque region at the heart of half a century of enmity between the nuclear armed rivals. Thousands of people have died since Muslim separatist rebels launched a bloody insurgency in Kashmir in 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming, training and sending separatists into Kashmir. Islamabad calls the Kashmir rebellion an indigenous freedom struggle.