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Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Militants 'still entering Kashmir'
Pakistani trooper on line of control
Pakistan says it is trying to stop infiltrations
A senior American envoy has said that militants are still crossing into Indian Kashmir from Pakistani-held territory.

But US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says Pakistan has assured him that it is doing all it can to prevent it.


There is some obvious infiltration across the Line of Control but our friends here assure me that this is not being sponsored by the government of Pakistan

Richard Armitage

He was speaking after meeting Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Mr Armitage is in the region on a peace mission amid new tension between Pakistan and India over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

His arrival was marked by a dramatic increase in tension as the two South Asian nuclear powers traded accusations over an alleged Indian ground and air attack on a military post in the Pakistani sector of Kashmir.

But Mr Armitage said it was up to the countries to find a solution to their long-standing dispute.

"We can offer assistance, we cannot impose a solution and should not impose a solution," he said.

Mr Armitage said he was given a full briefing by the Pakistanis about the alleged attack.

However, he said, the facts on the ground were not something the Americans could judge.

Enlarge image Enlarge map

Mr Armitage, who was in Delhi on Friday, said that no-one believed the Pakistani Government was solely responsible for activities across the border.

The BBC's Susannah Price, in Islamabad, says this statement will please the Pakistanis and suggests the Indian authorities have told Mr Armitage they will not lay all the blame on Pakistan.

There was more violence in Indian-administered Kashmir early on Saturday when suspected Islamic militants shot dead 12 Muslim villagers, Indian police said.

They said the attackers barged into the homes of villagers in the district of Rajouri, which is close to the border with Pakistan, and fired indiscriminately.

Three women were among the victims.

Also on Saturday, at least 15 schoolchildren were reported injured in a grenade attack near Indian Kashmir's southern town of Anantnag.

Reports say that suspected Islamic militants threw the grenade at a passing army vehicle but it missed and exploded near a group of children.

'Outright lie'

In the alleged clashes between Pakistani and Indian troops, Pakistan said about 70 Indian soldiers attacked a military post north of Kargil, in the Gultari section of Kashmir, on Thursday evening.

Pakistani troops engaged them, a military spokesman said, killing dozens, and India allegedly responded with an air attack on the area.

Richard Armitage (L) with Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes
The new spat erupted as Armitage arrived
But Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes described the Pakistani allegations as an "outright lie".

"Indian armed forces have neither crossed the Line of Control nor attacked any place whatsoever," a statement by the Indian Defence Ministry said.

An Indian army spokesman, Colonel Shrutikant, told the BBC that while there had been routine firing in the area, no particular incident had taken place and no Indian soldiers had been killed.

War nearly broke out in the same area between the two armies in 1999, since when they have amassed troops along their borders.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Susannah Price in Islamabad
"Mr Armitage said the Pakistanis assured him they weren't helping the militants out"
Click here fror background reports and analysis

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23 Aug 02 | South Asia
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