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Security Increased in Jammu City Following Attack on Hindu Temple


In India's Jammu and Kashmir State, security has been stepped-up in Jammu City following Sunday's attack on two Hindu temples that killed 13 people, including 10 civilians. More than 50 people were injured in the attacks. Police have regained control of the temples.

The Indian government has linked the latest violence to the release of a hard-line Islamic militant leader in Pakistan and has vowed to end what it calls "cross border terrorism" from Pakistan.

New gun battles erupted in Jammu City, Monday morning, following an overnight security operation in which police commandoes stormed and secured the two temples. Police say one separatist militant was killed in the latest exchange of gunfire.

Most of the civilians killed or injured were in the Raghuanth Temple, a popular Hindu shrine in the heart of Jammu and visited by scores of devotees every day. One of the gunmen fled to a smaller temple.

Police say they are not certain exactly how many militants were involved in the attacks, but at least two gunmen have been killed.

The attack on the temples was the third major violent incident blamed on separatist militants since Friday.

In a statement in parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani said violence had risen in Kashmir, just as a new government took power in Islamabad.

He said the attacks on the temples were carried out by the Al-Mansuran group, which he calls a cover organization for the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba group. He linked the recent surge in violence in Kashmir to the Pakistan government's recent release of the chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group.

"These and the present attack on the Raghunath Temple makes one speculate whether it is a mere coincidence that this spate of terrorist incidents, just when the process of government-formation has been completed in Pakistan. The spate of violence also follows the release by the government of Pakistan of the chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafez Mohammed Sayeed. After his release he vowed to continue the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir and gave a public call to step up terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

The Laskhar-e-Taiba group is one of the two Islamic militant groups India blames for a deadly attack on its parliament last December.

Pakistan has condemned the attacks on the temples. In a statement, the foreign ministry says the "motivation behind the attacks seems to be to enhance tension in the region."

India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring the separatist rebellion in Kashmir. Islamabad denies the charge.

Meanwhile, police imposed a curfew in Jammu, a Hindu-dominated city in the Muslim-majority region. Angry crowds had gathered around the temples, after the attacks, accusing the new regional government of following a "soft" policy with separatist militants.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed says he is determined to push ahead with a dialogue to end years of violence, despite the new attacks. Mr. Sayeed took power, promising to move on a path to reconciliation and open a dialogue with all groups in the state including separatist militants.

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