Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Battle in Kashmir against militants ends with 12 dead


Gunfights between suspected Islamic militants and security forces in India's portion of Kashmir left at least 12 people dead, officials said yesterday.

Two suspected rebels were killed in a gunbattle with Indian soldiers in Konibal village, about 20km south of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state. Two soldiers and two policemen also died.

Indian soldiers spotted the two guerrillas as they tried to sneak into Konibal on Friday night, carrying ammunition and supplies, an army official said.

When "challenged by the troops," the militants fired back, setting off a night-long gunfight.

In a separate gunfight, six people were killed in the Goripara village, about 40km northeast of Srinagar, police officer Mohammad Amin said.

The dead included three suspected rebels, two soldiers and a civilian woman who was killed in the crossfire.

More than a dozen Islamic guerrilla groups have been fighting since 1989 for independence of the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, or its merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan. The 14-year insurgency in India's only Muslim majority state has left more that 65,000 people dead, mostly civilian.

Meanwhile the top bureaucrat at India's interior ministry arrived in Srinagar on a two day visit to review the deteriorating security situation in Kashmir. Home Secretary Dhirendra Singh is scheduled to hold discussion with top security officials in the region and the state government.

At least 22 persons, civilians, rebels and soldiers have been killed this week in renewed rebel violence.

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