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Friday, June 19, 1998 Published at 21:13 GMT 22:13 UK

World: South Asia

Wedding massacre in Kashmir

The attack took place in the mountainous district of Doda

The authorities in the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir say 25 members of a Hindu marriage party have been killed in an ambush by separatist militants.

The BBC's Mike Wooldridge reports from New Delhi
The BBC correspondent in New Delhi says Indian police report the killings took place on Friday afternoon as the wedding party returned to their village. The police say the group was fired on by a number "armed militants".

Seven others were also injured.

The attack took place at Champnagri town, in the mountainous Doda district of the state, 175km north-east of Jammu city.

Militant activity

None of the militant groups involved in separatist activity in Jammu and Kashmir has so far admitted responsibility. But the authorities say there has been an increase in militant activity there in recent months.

The BBC correspondent says this attack would appear to be the latest in series. In April, 26 Hindus were killed in a single attack on another village in the state and four more in May.

These latest killings, immediately condemned by the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farouk Abdullah, come at a time when he and the Hindu Nationalist-led central government have been talking of a new drive to combat the armed separatists.

The authorities maintain that they have the active backing of Pakistan, though Pakistan has always denied arming or funding them.

Ownership of Kashmir, with its majority Muslim population, has been the subject of dispute between India and Pakistan since gaining independence 50 years ago.

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