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Kashmir Attack Kills Six Policemen - 2001-08-24

In Indian Kashmir, six policemen and one civilian were killed in an overnight attack Friday by suspected Muslim militants. The latest killings come as violence escalates in the region where a Muslim separatist insurgency has raged for more than a decade.

Authorities say a group of Muslim militants dressed in army uniforms stormed a frontier police station in the border town of Poonch, about 250 kilometers north of Jammu, Kashmir's winter capital.

The militants lobbed grenades and sprayed the police station with bullets before escaping into the nearby mountains. A civilian present at the police post was among those killed.

Police say the hard-line Lakshar-e-Taiba group has claimed responsibility for the attack. It's among the Muslim militant groups that had vowed to step up attacks against Indian security forces since a summit last month between the leaders of India and Pakistan ended without agreement on how to solve the Kashmir dispute.

Authorities say more than 250 people have died in the region since the summit ended.

Among those killed have been scores of suspected militants. Police officials said the attack on the police post appeared to have been carried out to avenge the killing of more than 100 militants in the Jammu region.

Authorities say Muslim militants have moved the focus of their attacks in recent weeks from the Kashmir valley to the Hindu-dominated Jammu region. The Indian government recently granted tough emergency powers to security forces in the region to tackle the growing violence.

Kashmir is a disputed territory divided between India and Paksitan. Authorities say more than 30,000 people have died in the region since a separatist insurgency flared in 1989. Human rights groups and militant groups say the number is much higher.