Ten Killed In Weekend Gunbattle In Indian Kashmir

22 June 2008

Srinagar: At least 10 people, including nine separatist militants, were killed in clashes between security forces and insurgents at the weekend in Indian Kashmir, police said. Soldiers shot dead five suspected militants late on Saturday when they tried to cross the border into India. Four militants and a soldier were killed on Sunday in another gunbattle. 'The initial investigation has shown that the militants belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba,' S.M. Sahai, a senior police officer said in Srinagar, Kashmir's main city. Lashkar-e-Taiba is a Pakistan-based militant group. The attack comes days after India's defence minister, A.K. Antony, warned that attacks by separatist militants in the disputed Kashmir region could increase as local elections draw near. Elections for the state assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, are due by November. Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan, is claimed by both and the south Asian neighbours have also fought wars over the scenic region. Officials say more than 43,000 people have been killed in the region since a revolt against New Delhi broke out in 1989, but human rights groups put the toll at about 60,000. Violence involving Indian troops and separatist militants has declined since India and Pakistan began a peace process in 2004, though people are still killed in daily shootouts and occasional bomb attacks .