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Islamic Militants Blamed for Deadly Attack on Indian Troops - 2002-05-19

Indian authorities say four soldiers have been killed, and seven others injured in an attack by suspected Islamic militants on a security post in the Indian Kashmir. The attack took place as India and Pakistan exchanged heavy fire across the disputed Kashmir border for the third straight day.

A defense ministry spokesman says Islamic militants attacked a joint army and paramilitary camp before dawn in Udhampur district, about 150 kilometers northeast of Kashmir's winter capital Jammu.

The militants fired rocket-propelled grenades, killing and injuring several soldiers.

"We know that it was a terrorist attack," said Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, adding "we know that some casualties have been caused."

It is the second attack on a security post in less than a week in the troubled Kashmir region. An assault Tuesday killed 34 people and led to a sharp escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan.

New Delhi blamed the assault on Pakistan-backed militants, a charge Islamabad denies.

Opposition parties are backing the government's decision Saturday to expel the Pakistani ambassador in New Delhi. India says it acted because Pakistan has failed in its pledge to crack down on Islamic militant groups fighting in Kashmir.

Pakistan says it has banned extremist Kashmiri groups and will try to resolve issues with New Delhi through peaceful means.

As tensions between the two countries remain high, there was more artillery firing across the volatile Kashmir border between Indian and Pakistani troops. Both sides accuse the other of starting the firing that is reported to have killed six people in the past two days.

Both India and Pakistan have deployed tens-of-thousands of troops along their border since Islamic militants attacked the Indian parliament in December.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is expected to meet army commanders when he visits Kashmir on Wednesday.