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At Least 3 Dead in Kashmir Attack - 2002-05-30

In Indian Kashmir, two policemen and one civilian were killed and several others injured in an attack by suspected separatist militants on a police post. Meanwhile, there is no let-up in the intense cross-border shelling between Indian and Pakistani forces in the troubled region.

Indian officials say two suspected militants stormed a police base in Doda district, about 180 kilometers north of Kashmir's winter capital, Jammu. They remained holed up in the complex for nearly 15 hours, before security forces destroyed the building, killing the two attackers.

Police say shooting from militants hiding in a nearby forest hampered efforts to end the siege. The mountainous Doda district is a stronghold of Islamic rebels.

The incident was the most serious since militants attacked an army base in Kashmir earlier this month, killing more than 30 people, mostly dependents of Indian soldiers.

Since then, Indian authorities have threatened military action against Pakistan, unless Islamabad stops militants from crossing into Indian Kashmir. Pakistan denies it is aiding the militants.

The latest attack took place as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Islamabad is considering redeploying troops from the Afghan frontier to the eastern border with India. Responding to the report, an Indian defense ministry spokesman said "India is prepared for any eventuality."

Responding to reports that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has pledged to prevent infiltration across the Kashmir "line of control," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao said New Delhi will wait to verify such pledges.

"Fact is, whatever assurances the Pakistani leadership may make, we will wait to see whether it is translated into action on the ground, whether there is positive change, on the ground in terms of infiltration, in terms of ingress of terrorist groups, and we will form our assessment at that stage," she said.

Officials say the intensity of cross-border firing in Kashmir has not abated, and heavy artillery shelling continues at many points along the line of control that divides the troubled region between the two countries. Defense officials say the overnight firing killed several people - soldiers and civilians.

Analysts have warned that a major militant attack, and the continuing cross-border firing could lead to an unintended escalation of hostilities between India and Pakistan. Both countries have mobilized a million troops along their borders.