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Violence Mars India's Independence Day

Violence marred India's Independence Day celebrations in both the north and the south of the country as Maoist rebels killed ten people in Andhra Pradesh and bombs blamed on Islamic guerrillas exploded in Kashmir. The attacks came as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised to boost economic growth to fight poverty.

Hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised his people a better future, Maoist guerrillas in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh shot and killed a regional lawmaker and several other people as they were returning home from a ceremony marking Independence Day.

Maoist rebels have been waging a three-decade long insurgency in the southern state for greater rights for landless farmers and the poor.

In the restive Kashmir region, a small bomb exploded outside a stadium in the summer capital Srinagar, where official celebrations were due to be held. Another bomb exploded in Pattan town. No one was injured.

Islamic rebel groups fighting Indian rule in the disputed region claimed responsibility for planting the devices.

India celebrates Independence Day, the day it became free from British rule in 1947, with nationwide ceremonies and parades. Rebel groups often target the day calling for strikes, hoisting black flags or carrying out violent attacks.

The main celebrations are held in New Delhi, where the Indian Prime Minister addresses the country from the

heavily-guarded ramparts of the historic Red Fort.

Speaking on the occasion Monday, the Prime Minister said peace talks with Pakistan had achieved some success, but urged Islamabad to end its alleged support for Islamic militants in Kashmir.

He said Pakistan had stopped some of the activities of terrorists operating from its soil, but half-hearted efforts would not lead to success. He called on Islamabad to cut off all support to terrorists. Mr. Singh warned that India's response would be "hard" if violence in Kashmir did not end.

Islamabad denies supporting terror groups in Kashmir.

Mr. Singh also promised to keep India on the path of high economic growth to ensure prosperity for all.

The prime minister said that if the momentum of high growth was maintained in the coming decade, India would be able to eliminate poverty, ignorance, hunger and disease. He said he expected the country to achieve seven percent growth this year.