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India's Parliament Condemns Kashmir Killings


India's parliament has condemned the weekend killings of 28 civilians by suspected Islamic militants in Indian Kashmir, but the government has postponed plans to give its response to the attack. Kashmir's winter capital, Jammu, has observed a strike to protest the latest violence.

Most shops and businesses in Jammu city downed shutters, and buses stayed off the roads in response to a strike called by the local unit of the Hindu hardline Bharatiya Janata party.

Police fanned out in large numbers in the city, where there is mounting anger over Saturday's bloody attack on a shantytown by gunmen disguised as Hindu holymen. Most of the victims came from families of migrant Hindu laborers, many were women and children.

Security was also tightened in the summer capital Srinagar, where lawmakers voted for a new Indian president.

In New Delhi, there is still no official reaction to the attack, except statements of condemnation.

Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani had been due to give the government's response to the killings, but parliament was adjourned after briefly expressing condolences for victims of the Kashmir attack. Officials say Mr. Advani will brief lawmakers Tuesday on the latest violence in Kashmir.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and New Delhi has declined to assign blame, saying the identity of those behind the assault is being established.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's foreign ministry rejected an earlier statement by Indian foreign minister Yashwant Sinha that attacks of this nature are happening "with the inspiration of Pakistan".

Two months ago, an attack on an army camp brought India and Pakistan close to war, after New Delhi accused Islamabad-based militant groups of staging the assualt. Tensions cooled after Mr. Musharraf pledged to stop incursions of Muslim militants from Pakistani territory into India.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw currently visiting Beijing, has urged India and Pakistan to keep up the momentum towards peace, despite the bloody attack. He arrives in the region later this week.

Political analysts say after the latest attack, India will ask western countries to put greater pressure on Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf to crack down on Islamic rebels. In the past week, Foreign Minister Sinha has said infiltration by Muslim rebels into Kashmir is on the rise after a brief lull.

New Delhi says its troops will remain deployed on the border with Pakistan until infiltration ends permanently.

Meanwhile, several countries, including the United States, Britain, and France have condemned the weekend attack.

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