5 Indian Soldiers Die In Fighting In Kashmir

4 July 2008
Associated Press

Srinagar: Fierce fighting raged in India's portion of Kashmir Friday, killing five army soldiers and a suspected Muslim rebel near the de facto border with Pakistan. Earlier this week, 11 suspected rebels and an army officer were killed in the same Tangdar region, about 80 miles north of Srinagar, the biggest city in Jammu-Kashmir state. The battles have raged sporadically all week, said Indian army spokesman Col. Uma Maheshwar. The rebels apparently crossed into Indian territory from the Pakistani side of the de facto border, he said. 'We're trying to flush out the militants from the area, but it's very tough terrain and some of the area is still snowbound,' he said. There was no independent confirmation of the battle and no rebel group has claimed responsibility. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed by both. The two countries have fought two wars over the Himalayan territory since they gained independence from Britain in 1947. Rebels have been fighting since 1989 to win Kashmir's independence or have the Indian-controlled two-thirds of the predominantly Muslim region merged with Pakistan. India accuses Pakistan of training and arming the guerrillas and sending them into Indian-held territory to attack government forces and targets. Pakistan denies the charge, saying it only gives moral and diplomatic support to the rebels. More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have died since the start of the rebellion.