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Militants kill eight in Indian Kashmir ahead of Sharif-Singh talks

26 September 2013 08:23 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Militants dressed in Indian army uniforms killed eight people in attacks on an Indian police station and army base near the Pakistan border on Thursday, triggering calls to cancel talks between the rival nations' leaders at the weekend.

The group of about three militants killed six people in the attack on the police station in the disputed Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, then hijacked a truck and drove to the army camp, where they were hiding in a building, security forces said.

They killed at least two soldiers, including a Lieutenant Colonel, a senior army office told Reuters.

"They abandoned the truck on the national highway and perhaps took another vehicle and carried out an attack on the army camp in Samba. The gunfight inside the camp is going on," said Rajesh Kumar, an inspector general of police.

Just a day before the attack, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would meet his Pakistan counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly at the weekend. They are expected to discuss rising violence in the Kashmir region.

Politicians from India's nationalist opposition party immediately called for the cancellation of the talks, the first between the two leaders since Sharif returned to office in May.

While Singh strongly condemned what he called a "heinous terrorist attack" he suggested the meeting, expected on Sunday, would go ahead.

"This is one more in a series of provocations and barbaric actions by the enemies of peace," Singh said in a statement. "Such attacks will not deter us and will not succeed in derailing our efforts to find a resolution to all problems through a process of dialogue."

India has faced an insurgency in its part of Muslim-majority Kashmir since 1989 and has long accused Pakistan of supporting the militants fighting Indian rule. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told reporters he believed the group had entered from Pakistan within the last 24 hours.

Pakistan's army and government were not immediately available for comment.

A Reuters witness said gunfire could still be heard late in the morning and three helicopters were hovering over the army camp where police said the militants were holed up inside a building.

Television footage showed security men taking positions, firing from just outside the camp's walls and closing the main gate. Wounded men were being lifted out.

Pakistan denies arming or training militants, but says it offers moral support to the Muslim people of Kashmir who it says face rights abuses by Indian forces.

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, which tracks violence in Kashmir, 128 people, including 44 security personnel, have been killed in the region this year, before the latest attack. That compares with 117 people killed in 2012.

(Reporting by Mukesh Gupta in SAMBA; Fayaz Bukhari in SRINAGAR; Additional reporting by Sruthi Gottipati in NEW DELHI; Writing by John Chalmers and Anurag Kotoky; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Nick Macfie)

(Source : Reuters)

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