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India Mulls Response to Attack in Kashmir - 2002-05-16

Indian government officials have said they will announce on Friday how they plan to respond to the killing of 35 people in Indian-administered Kashmir earlier this week. India's army chief said action must be taken following the latest violence.

Senior military, intelligence and Home Ministry officials met in New Delhi to discuss how to respond to the latest violence in India's state of Jammu and Kashmir.

On Tuesday, suspected separatist militants killed more than 30 people, mostly women and children dependents, living on an Army base they attacked near Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

A statement following the meeting said steps to refine the strategy and tactics involved in stopping the infiltration of separatist militants into Kashmir were reviewed. The statement said possible military action against support bases for the militants was also discussed.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is expected to discuss India's response to the violence in Parliament on Friday. Mr. Vajpayee has said India will respond but has yet to say how. India's Army Chief S. Padmanabhan told reporters on Thursday he would not discuss specifics, but said the time for action has come.

Following a meeting with India's Home Minister L.K. Advani, U.S. Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill called the violence in Kashmir unacceptable.

"Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism. Terrorism against any country is part of the war on Terrorism. Terrorism against India is as unacceptable as it is against America or any other country," Mr. Blackwill said.

Indian officials blame Pakistan for the violence, saying there has been no letup in the infiltration of separatist militants from Pakistan. Pakistani officials reject the charge, saying they are not in any way involved in helping anybody cross into Indian territory.

Indian officials have stepped up criticism of the United States since the attack. Defense Minister George Fernandes said U.S. officials prefer to issue statements condemning terrorism rather than help India fight it. Home Minister L.K. Advani on Thursday called for western nations to stop giving aid to Pakistan.

A senior U.S. diplomat, Assistant Secretary Christina Rocca visited both countries this week in an unsuccessful attempt to defuse tensions. Ms. Rocca said the mobilization of troops by India and Pakistan was very worrying, saying a spark could lead to an unintended conflict between the two nations.