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2 Indian Soldiers Injured in Kashmir Rebel Attack - 2004-03-11

In Indian Kashmir, officials say two soldiers have been wounded in an attack by Islamic militants.

Indian military officials say Muslim rebels hurled grenades early Thursday at an army training camp, then fled into a building adjoining a girls' school.

The attack took place in the small town of Khrew, about 25 kilometers south of Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar.

Officials say about 200 girls and teachers were trapped in the school for nearly two hours as guerrillas and soldiers traded fire. They were later escorted out by police officials.

The banned Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack. The group has been at the forefront of a violent 14-year campaign by several Islamic militant groups to free Kashmir from India.

Thursday's violence is the latest in a series of attacks in Kashmir blamed on Islamic rebels in recent days. On Wednesday, a grenade explosion in a village near Srinagar killed six civilians, and wounded nearly 50 others. A day earlier, rebels stormed the government media building in Srinagar, wounding several soldiers.

Political analyst Jyotendra Nath Dixit says the guerrillas are steeping-up attacks to demonstrate that their separatist struggle in Kashmir continues despite recent peace moves between India and Pakistan.

"They want to prove that they are not on the backfoot, that they are still capable of not only [militant] activity, but the frequency of the events is to sort of convey the false impression that they still have people supporting them, both inside Jammu and Kashmir, and from Pakistan," he said.

Officials say nearly 260 people, including about 200 militants have been killed in insurgency-related violence since January, when India and Pakistan announced their decision to open peace talks.

India's Junior Home Minister I.D. Swami said recently that the militants want to sabotage the peace initiative between the two countries because they appear to be losing hope of getting help from Pakistan in the wake of the recent peace moves.

In the past, India has accused Pakistan of supporting and funding militant groups waging an insurgency in Kashmir. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan.