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At Least 14 Killed in Kashmir Violence - 2003-04-25

Three people were killed and 34 others injured Friday when a suspected bomb exploded at a courthouse in Indian-administered Kashmir. Eleven others in Kashmir also died Friday in a series of violent encounters.

Police say the explosion at the courthouse at Pattan, 35 kilometers north of the city of Srinagar, was extremely powerful. They say they do not know if the explosive device was planted inside the courthouse or thrown at the building. Most of those killed or injured in the attack were civilians, and at least two women were among the dead.

It was the second bombing in India's Jammu and Kashmir State this week. Authorities dsy separatist militants are behind both attacks.

Elsewhere in the state on Friday at least 11 others died in a series of clashes between Indian security forces and separatist militants. In one incident two soldiers and two militants were killed when separatists launched an attack against an army post at Bandipur, about 30 kilometers north of Srinagar. One of the militants who died reportedly blew himself up, also killing a local civilian caught in the attack.

At least two political activists from the state's ruling People's Democratic Party were also killed in separate attacks on Friday.

The series of violent incidents took place as Indian government negotiator N.N. Vohra held talks with pro-Indian politicians in the predominately Muslim state. Mr. Vohra has sought to meet with separatist political leaders in the state, but so far they have refused, saying he lacks a mandate to discuss the future of Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the leaders of India and Pakistan are pledging to improve relations. In recent days India's Prime Minister called on Pakistan and separatist political leaders to join India for talks on the future of Kashmir. Pakistan officials say they are willing to hold talks "anytime."

Two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since their independence in 1947 have been over Kashmir, which is divided among the two countries but which both claim in its entirety.