Four Indian army soldiers were killed in an ambush by suspected Muslim militants in Kashmir shortly after the Indian military confirmed a month-long cease-fire, police said Sunday.
A police official said the rebels late Saturday attacked a patrol of the elite counter-insurgency unit, Rashtriya Rifles, at Pathushahi village in the frontier region of Kupwara, some 110 kilometers (68 miles) from the state summer capital Srinagar.
He said four soldiers died in the attack and two were injured. The rebels fled into a nearby forest after snatching a light machine gun and an AK-47 assault rifle from the troops.
The Al-Badr militant group, the first separatist outfit to reject the Indian cease-fire, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The ambush came just hours after Kashmir's top military officer, Lieutenant General H.L. Khanna, confirmed a cease-fire for the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, starting at the end of November.
Khanna said the cease-fire announced by New Delhi last week would "apply to all militant groups across-the-board irrespective of their stance, standing and political leanings.
"However, our troops retain the right to retaliate in self-defense," he said.
Kashmir's main militant group Hizbul Mujahideen has said the separatist movement was united in opposition to the cease-fire. The ceasefire announcement was followed by the brutal killing of 10 Hindus and Sikhs last week.
Syed Salahuddin, chief of the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen group, said in the Pakistani port city of Karachi that rebels would step up attacks during Ramadan.
Salahuddin said India's unprecedented offer was a "mockery" of efforts to end the 11-year Muslim separatist insurgency which has claimed 34,000 lives in Indian Kashmir, unless it was backed by tripartite talks including Pakistan -- SRINAGAR (AFP)
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