Indian Troops Gun Down Five Rebels Along Kashmir Border

July 20, 2002 - 0:0
SRINAGAR, India -- Indian soldiers gunned down five suspected militants in Kashmir Friday after they sneaked over from the Pakistani side of the disputed border, an army spokesman said.

He said the militants were shot dead in the Nowgam sector of northern Kupwara district, which borders the Pakistani zone of Kashmir.

"The militants on entering the Indian side were asked to surrender, but they opened fire, which was effectively and promptly returned, killing five militant infiltrators," spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mukhtair Singh told AFP.

"The soldiers of Indian army have thus foiled a major infiltration bid," the spokesman added.

The incident coincided with a visit to India by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who is heading a new international diplomatic thrust to try to calm tensions between India and Pakistan over attacks by Muslim rebels on Indian targets.

Singh said Friday's infiltration bid gave the lie to Pakistan's claims to have reined in the rebels, who have carried out two massacres in Kashmir in the past two months, aside from daily attacks on the Indian security forces and civilians in Indian Kashmir.

New Delhi also blames the rebels for an attack on the Indian Parliament in December, which caused the two arch-rivals to go on to a war footing and amass around a million soldiers on their frontiers.

India says it will withdraw its troops only when Pakistan ends the infiltrations.

Pakistan has banned the two groups India holds responsible for the Parliament attack and says it is doing its best to prevent militants from crossing into Indian Kashmir, where at least 36,500 people have been killed in a 13-year-old Muslim insurgency.