Three Soldiers Killed In Kashmir
23 July 2005
Srinagar: Three Indian soldiers and an Islamic militant were killed yesterday in a fierce gunbattle in revolt-hit Indian Kashmir, the army said. The fighting erupted in the village of Ajas near the northern town of Bandipora when Indian troops surrounded a house containing militants. 'As troops closed in, militants who were hiding opened fire and that fire was returned,' army spokesman Vijay Batra said. The violence was the latest in Indian Kashmir where tens of thousands of people have died since rebels took up arms against New Delhi's rule in 1989. India says there has been a 'sudden spurt' in militant incursions from the Pakistani side of the disputed region by guerrillas over the past few weeks since snow blocking Himalayan mountain passes began melting. However, it says the rise in incursions will not disrupt the peace dialogue between India and Pakistan that began formally in January 2004. On Wednesday, the region's main rebel group, Hizbul Mujahedin, based in Pakistan-held Kashmir, claimed responsibility for a car bomb in Indian Kashmir that killed four soldiers and a civilian and injured 21 other people. New Delhi charges that Pakistan permits rebels to train on territory under its control, an allegation Islamabad rejects. Over 44,000 people have been killed in Indian Kashmir since the start of the insurgency.