Violence surges in Indian Kashmir, 35 killed

 

At least 35 people including 27 militants and five soldiers were killed in Indian Kashmir today in separate clashes, including a suicide attack on an army camp, police and army officials said.

"In the ensuing encounter, security forces killed one Pakistani terrorist. Four security personnel were killed," an Indian army statement said.

Police said the gunbattle continued for several hours. Dialgam lies south of Srinagar, the summer capital of the violence-racked Jammu and Kashmir state.

Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba claimed responsibility for the attack on the camp, saying eight Indian soldiers were killed and none of its members had died.

Tensions between nuclear rivals Pakistan and India have mounted in recent weeks, although both have supported the United States-led military campaign against Islamic militants holed up in neighbouring Afghanistan.

India consistently blames Pakistan for arming and training Kashmir militants, a charge Islamabad denies. Fidayeen or suicide squads of Lashkar-e-Taiba have launched series of attacks on Indian security forces across Kashmir in last two years.

Police in Jammu, the winter capital of the state, said 16 militants were killed in a gunbattle with security forces in the Poonch district, 256 km (108 miles) north of Jammu.

The encounter has been continuing since morning and so far 16 militants have been killed in a single encounter near Poonch, a senior police official told Reuters.

Ten militants, three civilians and an Indian soldier were killed across the state in other clashes, police and army officials said.

At least a dozen militant groups are fighting New Delhi's rule in India's only Muslimmajority state where officials say about 30,000 people have died in nearly 12 years of conflict.

Separatists put the toll closer to 80,000.

Two Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups have dismissed Indian claims of killing 20 guerillas near the military line of control in Kashmir and said those killed were civilians.

Indian police on Friday said at least 20 separatists, some of whom were trying to cross into Pakistani-ruled Kashmir, were killed in a gunbattle in Poonch district.

They were unarmed Kashmiri youths trying to enter into Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to seek refuge due to atrocities of Indian forces , Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, one of the main militant groups, said in a statement in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-ruled Kashmir.

It said the Indian forces arrested the innocent civilians before taking them to the line of control dividing Kashmir region and shooting them to death.

Tehrik-i-Jihad, another anti-India militant outfit, denied any association with those killed.