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5 Suspected Militants Killed in Kashmir - 2002-06-29

India said its troops have killed five suspected Islamic militants in Indian Kashmir. Officials say three militants were shot dead while crossing from Pakistani territory into India.

Indian officials say three of the suspected militants were killed during an hour-long exchange of gunfire in Poonch district, 240 kilometers northwest of Jammu about one half of a kilometer from the line of control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Officials say two more militants were killed overnight when troops raided a guerrilla hideout in a nearby village.

Indian defense officials said the incidents showed that what India calls cross-border infiltration by Islamic militants from Pakistan has not ended.

Tensions between India and Pakistan eased after Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, told U.S. officials Muslim militants would be stopped from entering Indian Kashmir.

On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee ruled out the possibility of war with Pakistan, but said he will only open talks with Islamabad when it stops militants from entering India.

The issue lies at the heart of the current dispute between India and Pakistan. The two countries have massed nearly a million troops along their common border since December, following an attack on the Indian parliament by suspected Islamic militants.

A strategic affairs analyst at The Hindu newspaper, C. Raja Mohan, says renewed violence in Kashmir could threaten the easing of tensions between the rival nations.

"The worries of war are not really over; there is a pause. There is a de-escalation, and there is a political promise that the Americans have got from General Pervez Musharraf, that he will do something about terrorism. If he fulfills the promise, the hopes for peace will stay, but if he keeps playing around that and tries to walk back from it, there is always the danger of renewed tensions," he said.

Indian officials have reported new violence by suspected Islamic militants in Kashmir in the last three days. Officials said four policemen were injured when suspected militants lobbed grenades and opened fire at a police post, in Doda district, east of Jammu.