Army officer among 6 killed in India Kashmir clashes

20 July 2008

SRINAGAR: Two Indian soldiers, including an officer, and four suspected Muslim militants were killed in separate gun battles in Kashmir, the army said on Sunday. An army officer and a soldier were killed on Sunday in a firefight with militants in Rajouri area of south Kashmir, a day after nine soldiers were killed in a landmine blast near Srinagar, the region's main city. 'The encounter broke out on Saturday and still continues,' Indian army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel S. D. Goswami said. Violence has flared up across the Himalayan region ahead of a new round of India-Pakistan peace talks on Monday that are opposed by Kashmiri separatist militants. Security agencies have also warned of a rise in violence in the run-up to local elections later this year. Four suspected militants were shot dead by soldiers on Saturday when they tried to sneak in from Pakistan in Kupwara sector, northwest of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir. India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part and have fought two wars over the Himalayan region. The two launched a peace process in 2004 but made little progress on their main dispute over Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people have been killed since a separatist revolt against New Delhi's rule erupted in 1989. New Delhi says Islamabad has not done enough to curb Muslim militants operating from its soil, a charge Islamabad denies.