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9 Killed in Indian Kashmir - 2002-11-23

In Indian Kashmir, nine people including five soldiers have been killed and at least 20 others injured in an attack by suspected Muslim militants. It is the second attack targeting security forces in the last two days in the region.

Police say a bus carrying soldiers was on its way from Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar to the winter capital Jammu when it hit a landmine and tumbled into a mountain gorge. The blast occurred on a busy highway near Lower Munda, about 70 kilometers south of Srinagar. Muslim separatists are suspected to have planted the device.

Besides soldiers, the victims included two women and two children, who police say were relatives of security forces travelling on the bus. Several injured soldiers were rescued and taken to the hospital.

In separate incidents, police say Muslim militants lobbed grenades at two paramilitary camps in Srinagar, but there was no damage.

The latest attacks come a day after two suspected Islamic militants stormed a police camp in Srinagar, killing six policemen before being gunned down by security forces. The banned Lashkar-e-Taiba group has claimed responsibility for that attack.

The surge in violence has been reported after a short lull following the appointment of a new state government earlier this month.

The regional government has pledged to move on the path to reconciliation in the troubled region where a Muslim separatist insurgency has raged since 1989. The state's new Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, has called for an end to the bloodshed, and vowed to open a dialogue with separatist militants. He has also released several political prisoners in recent weeks.

Other efforts are also on to ease tensions in the troubled region. A non-government group called the Kashmir Committee and prominent Kashmiri separatist political groups are holding talks in Srinagar aimed at finding a solution to the dispute over the troubled region.

More than 35,000 people have died in violence in Kashmir over the past 12 years. India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring the separatist insurgency. Pakistan denies the charge.