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Sunday, 19 May, 2002, 20:56 GMT 21:56 UK
India warns Pakistan over border
Boy in Indian Kashmir displays the tail of a Pakistani mortar bomb
The border fighting has forced thousands to flee
India has further stepped up security along its northern and western borders as it warned Pakistan against launching any attack on its forces in Kashmir.

It put its interior ministry paramilitary forces under direct army command, and its coastguard under naval command, after four of its troops died in the second militant attack on an army camp in a week.

Relatives view boy killed in cross-border fire at morgue in Pakistani Kashmir
Reports say the mortar duels have reached a new intensity
The two countries have continued to trade fire across the border for the third day running.

Tensions over the disputed Kashmir region have been running high since a militant attack on an Indian army camp earlier this week left 34 people dead, most of them soldiers' wives and children.

After Tuesday's attack, Delhi pointed the finger at Pakistani-backed militants and ordered the expulsion of the Pakistani High Commissioner in retaliation.

Weekend of violence

"[The] Indian army shall conduct immediate retaliatory fire assaults every time any such incidents are committed by Pakistan along the [Kashmir] Line of Control and international border," said Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh in Delhi.

At least 15 people have been killed over the weekend in the region.

Pakistani colonel shows what he says are Indian artillery shells fired across the LOC
Both sides have massed troops along the disputed frontier
Indian police say three militants stormed into a camp on Sunday about 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of Jammu, throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately.

Three soldiers and one paramilitary policeman died along with one of the militants while the other two attackers escaped.

Pakistan said Indian mortar attacks on its border had killed seven people since Saturday while India reported that three of its civilians had died in Pakistani bombardments.

The two countries accuse each other of starting the fighting.

Both have massed large numbers of troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir since an attack on the Indian parliament last December brought them close to war.

Correspondents say exchanges of fire across the LoC are not rare but this weekend's are said to be the fiercest recorded this year.

Meanwhile, about 13,000 civilians in Indian Kashmir have fled from the border area and are swelling migrant camps south-west of Jammu.

Talks offer

Delhi says the militants who carried out Tuesday's attack had the backing of Pakistan, and accuses Islamabad of failing to carry out its pledge to clamp down on such groups.

Pakistan says it has banned extremist Kashmiri groups and rounded up many of their members, and says that those who carried out the attack in Jammu were indigenous fighters.

Indian armoured vehicle close to the Line of Control
India has been consolidating its forces

On Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who has been facing strong calls in parliament to take action, met opposition leader Sonia Gandhi to discuss the Kashmir crisis.

No details of their discussions were disclosed, but the Congress Party leader has expressed full support for the Pakistani diplomat's expulsion.

Pakistan made a new call for talks on Sunday, calling on India to pull its forces back from the border.

"We want to resolve all disputes with New Delhi through talks and negotiations," said Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmad Khan.

The United States, the country with the most influence in the region, has sent several emissaries to try to lower tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Adam Mynott
"Villagers from some areas have started to leave their homes"
The BBC's Susannah Price
"We haven't heard any suggestions of retaliation"
Pakistani High Commissioner, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi
"We have not excluded anything from the negotiating table"
See also:

18 May 02 | South Asia
Analysis: India's rising anger
17 May 02 | South Asia
Indian MPs condemn Pakistan
16 May 02 | South Asia
India weighs Kashmir response
16 May 02 | South Asia
Pakistan 'prepared nuclear strike'
15 May 02 | South Asia
US seeks South Asia talks
15 May 02 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Kashmir camp attack
15 May 02 | South Asia
Analysis: US keeps South Asian peace
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