Landmines kill 12 in Indian Kashmir


Separatist militants detonated a landmine in India's insurgency-torn Jammu and Kashmir today killing six soldiers.

A landmine attack killed six paramilitaries in the same mountainous district of Udhampur yesterday.

Violence has escalated in Kashmir since a summit between the leaders of India and Pakistan in July failed to make any progress on the decades-old dispute over the Himalayan territory.

Indian forces killed five guerrillas, including two from the Pakistan based Lashkar-eTaiba group, in overnight gunbattles, police said today. A soldier was also killed in an encounter with the rebels near Handwara in north Kashmir.

Tensions have risen since a shadowy group, which has ordered a strict Islamic dress code for Muslim women, asked minority Hindus and Sikhs to dress differently.

"For identification the Hindu women should wear bindi (coloured dot) on their forehead and Sikh women are requested to cover their heads with saffron-coloured cloth," a statement from the little known guerrilla group Lashkar-e-Jabar said.

Unidentified rebels last month sprayed acid on two Muslim women on a busy street in Srinagar, the state's summer capital, apparently for not covering their faces with a veil.

Authorities say more than 30,000 people have died since the revolt against Indian rule took off in Kashmir in late 1989.

India, which considers the whole of the Himalayan region an integral part of the country, blames Pakistan for fomenting the rebellion. Islamabad denies direct involvement but seeks self-determination for the Kashmiri people.