Militants Strike Second Blow against Kashmir Ceasefire
Suspected Muslim militants shot dead an Indian border guard and injured another in Kashmir on Thursday, in a second blow to the precarious government ceasefire in the region.
Gunmen brandishing automatic weapons entered the main market of Baramulla town -- the commercial hub of north Kashmir -- and opened fire on a patrol from the paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF), a police spokesman said.
One BSF tooper was killed instantly, while another was seriously wounded.
The gunmen escaped after the attack.
While security reinforcements were sent to the area, the ceasefire protocol prevented them carrying out the usual cordon and search operation.
"This attack shows the militants are frustrated," said Kashmir police chief Ashok Suri.
"They have opened fire in public, without digesting the desire for peace," Suri said.
Army and paramilitary forces ceased operations against Muslim militant groups in Kashmir from midnight November 27, in line with a unilateral ceasefire announced by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The first day of the truce witnessed a militant landmine blast that killed three soldiers and injured a dozen more.
In another incident Tuesday, an Indian border patrol fired on a group of militants crossing into Indian Kashmir over the disputed border with Pakistan.
Operations against cross-border incursions were exempted from the ceasefire.
Most militant groups have rejected Vajpayee's ceasefire offer as a propaganda ploy and threatened to step up violence against the security forces.
It is the first time the Indian government has implemented a unilateral ceasefire in Muslim-majority Kashmir since the launch in 1989 of a separatist insurgency that has claimed some 34,000 lives -- SRINAGAR, India (AFP)
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