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12 Soldiers Killed in Attack on Army Camp in Indian Kashmir - 2003-06-28


In Indian Kashmir, suspected Islamic militants have killed 12 soldiers and wounded seven others in an attack on an army camp. The violence flared as Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam wrapped up a visit to the region. Indian authorities say two suspected Muslim rebels scaled a wire fence, and infiltrated a sprawling army camp on the outskirts of Kashmir's winter capital, Jammu, early Saturday.

The attackers hurled grenades, and fired automatic weapons on the troops, many of whom were sleeping. Police say the suspected rebels were killed in a gun battle with soldiers.

It is the deadliest attack in Kashmir since Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited the region two months ago, and initiated a peace process with rival Pakistan.

The troubled state has been relatively quiet in recent weeks. But there have been daily reports of violence since President Kalam began a tour of the region on Thursday.

The attack on the army camp came hours before the president visited the famous Hazratbal mosque in Srinagar, and met troops on the front-line, where Indian and Pakistani soldiers face each other across the line of control that divides Kashmir between the two countries.

During his visit to Kashmir, the president has prayed at both Hindu and Muslim shrines that peace return to the region. He has also praised the role of the police and soldiers in protecting the state, calling them the defenders of the valley.

More than a dozen Islamic groups have been waging a separatist revolt in Kashmir since 1989. More than 35,000 people have been killed in the violence.

India accuses Pakistan of fomenting the violence in the state by arming, funding and aiding separatist groups. Pakistan denies the charge. Both countries have recently said they are prepared for a dialogue to resolve their differences.