Five Soldiers among 22 People Killed in Indian Kashmir
Five Indian army soldiers, including an officer, were among 22 people killed Sunday in Indian-administered Kashmir, contrary to official claims that violence had eased in the troubled state since the terrorist attacks on the United States.
The Indian authorities had claimed that Islamic militants were leaving Kashmir and Pakistan for Afghanistan where the ruling Taliban had called for a jihad (holy war) against America should it launch military strikes.
Indian officials said this meant there was less militant activity in Kashmir.
But the surge in militant-linked violence, with more than 70 people killed in Indian-Kashmir over the past three days, seems to contradict the claim.
Militants equipped with AK rifles and hand grenades on Sunday attacked an army convoy at Chakla Mode, on the outskirts of Baramulla town, 55 kilometers (34 miles) north of Srinagar, the Kashmiri summer capital, police said.
An officer was killed on the spot and seven other soldiers were injured.
Police sources said one of the injured died on the way to hospital and another three died in hospital late Sunday.
Army reinforcements rushed to the scene and during the ensuing gun battle two militants from the pro-Pakistan Lashkar-e-Toiba militant group were killed.
"It is believed that only two militants of Lashkar's suicide squad attacked the convoy," a police officer said.
It was the third major encounter in north Kashmir within 24 hours. On Saturday militants killed six army soldiers, including two officers, in two attacks.
In a separate incident Sunday Indian army soldiers shot dead four Islamic militants at Torne Post in the northern Baramulla district after they crossed over to Indian Kashmir from the Pakistani zone, police said.
The four reached Torne Post after crossing the Line of Control, the demarcation that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Another Lashkar militant was shot dead at Rafiabad village in the same district Sunday, police said.
Suspected militants shot dead three Muslims, including a young girl, overnight in the Baramulla district, police said.
Three more militants were killed by security forces in two separate encounters in Kupwara and Poonch districts overnight, police said.
Four more civilians died in separate incidents of violence across Kashmir since late Saturday.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the Islamic insurgents in the disputed Himalayan territory. The rebellion has left more than 35,000 people dead in the region in the past 12 years -- SRINAGAR, India (AFP)
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