Indian minister warns Kashmir violence could worsen

14 June 2008

Bangalore: India's defence minister warned on Saturday that attacks by separatist militants in the disputed Kashmir region could increase as local elections draw near. The comments by A.K. Antony came a day after suspected rebels killed five people, including four Indian soldiers, and injured 12 civilians in two separate attacks in the Himalayan region claimed by both India and Pakistan. 'In the coming months there could be more attempts at infiltration and violence,' he told reporters while visiting the southern city of Bangalore. Earlier on Saturday, three people, including a policeman, were injured in a grenade attack at a police post outside the chief minister's office in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's summer capital. 'There are forces within and outside the county who do not want free and fair elections,' Antony said. 'From our side, we will provide logistic support for free and peaceful elections. If we do that it will boost confidence of people both in India and outside.' Elections for the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly are due by November. Violence involving Indian troops and separatist militants has declined since India and Pakistan began a peace process in 2004, but people are still killed in daily shootouts and occasional bomb attacks. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the region since a revolt against New Delhi broke out in 1989.