Thirteen reported killed in Kashmir violence

 

Four civilians and nine separatist guerrillas have been killed in the latest rebel violence in India's mainly Muslim state of Kashmir, according to local police.

He said nine guerrillas were killed in gun battles across the Himalayan region, long a source of tension between India and Pakistan.

The four dead civilians included a police constable's father and brother who were shot dead in the Rajouri district. Two Muslim villagers were killed in the neighbouring district of Udhampur.

More than 35,000 people have been killed in a 13-year rebellion against mostly Hindu India's rule in its only Muslim-majority state.

India says Muslim Pakistan foments the rebellion by arming and sending militants across the border into Indian Kashmir.

Pakistan denies the charge and says it gives only moral and diplomatic support to what it calls a legitimate Kashmiri struggle for self-determination.

A newly-elected state coalition government in Indian Kashmir has vowed to bring peace to the strife-torn region, where more than a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian security forces since 1989.

It was not immediately clear if there was a link between the bar bombing and what police say are militant threats to punish anyone defying Islamic laws, such as prohibitions on alcohol and cigarettes and requirements for women to wear veils.

A previously unknown Muslim group threatened today to attack liquor and tobacco shops in the region, a news agency in Srinagar reported.

"Shopkeepers selling cigarettes, tobacco, liquor and other such narcotic items should close down their businesses. Anybody found violating will face the consequences," the Hai-ya-Allal Fallah (Come Towards Victory) group said in a faxed statement.