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Violence Erupts in Indian-Controlled Kashmir - 2003-07-22

Suspected Islamic militants have staged two attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir in the last 24 hours. Seven soldiers were killed and more wounded in an early Tuesday assault on an army base. Hindu pilgrims were the targets late Monday, when a grenade left at least seven dead and dozens injured.

Authorities in Indian Kashmir say suspected Muslim militants barged into the army camp Tuesday morning, threw grenades and fired indiscriminately. Police say two guerrillas were killed in the ensuing firefight, and a search was launched for other militants who may be in the area.

The military camp is located about 25 kilometers northwest of the Indian-Kashmir winter capital, Jammu.

The attack on the army base came just hours after suspected Muslim militants carried out a grenade attack against pilgrims on their way to a Hindu shrine outside the town of Katra, some 60 kilometers from Jammu.

Hundreds of pilgrims had lined up at a community kitchen, waiting for food before making the climb to the holy shrine of Vaishnodevi.

Indian authorities say Muslim militants are trying to disrupt improving relations between India and Pakistan.

Kashmir is the major issue of contention between the two neighbors. Jammu-Kashmir is India's only predominantly Muslim state, and Islamic militant groups have waged a separatist revolt in the area since 1989. More than 35,00 people have been killed in the violence.

India has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting and fomenting separatist violence in the area, a charge Pakistan denies.

Relations between the two neighbors have thawed in recent months, as both sides said they are ready to resume a dialogue to resolve their differences.