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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Kashmir strike ends peacefully
Mourning relatives of people killed in the attack in Qasim Nagar
The victims were poor labourers and their families
A general strike paralysed parts of Kashmir on Monday in protest at the killing of 27 Hindu civilians by suspected pro-Pakistan Muslim militants near Jammu.

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The strike was most effective in Jammu, the winter capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, but it had ended without incident by mid-afternoon.

Security, however, in the city of 800,000 people remained tight.

Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani condemned Saturday massacre as "terrorism in its most naked form" - but he refrained from blaming Pakistan.

Mr Advani is due to give the government's reaction to the killings in parliament on Tuesday. He was expected to speak on Monday, but the session was adjourned after condolences had been expressed for the victims.

The BBC's Jill McGivering in Jammu says the latest massacre has thrown the fragile mediation process in the troubled region into confusion.


The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which heads India's federal coalition, called for the general strike in the six districts of the Jammu region on Monday in protest at the attack.

Kashmir militant attacks:

1 October 2001:
38 killed in attack on the Kashmir assembly in Srinagar
13 December 2001:
14 killed in attack on the Indian parliament building in Delhi
14 May 2002:
More than 30 killed in attack on an Indian army camp in Kashmir
21 May 2002:
Moderate Kashmiri politician Abdul Ghani Lone shot dead

Some markets in the old walled city of Jammu were closed as were schools and educational institutions.

Buses stayed off the roads.

Shopkeeper Ramesh Sharma told the AFP news agency that shopkeepers had closed their shops "not because of the strike call, but to show our sympathy for the victims and our worries about the security situation."

Rickshaw driver Sundar Lal told the Reuters news agency he was worried that militants were attacking mainly-Hindu Jammu more frequently than before and it was no longer a safe city.

"We used to hear of such incidents in...the Kashmir valley. Now they are happening here so frequently," he said, "innocent people like us have become easy targets, but where do we go?"

Delayed reaction

India has delayed giving its official response to the killings.

Our corresponent says that while India is under considerable international pressure to show restraint, the sense of public outrage over such an incident will be hard to ignore.

But analysts say that India is unlikely to take drastic action before the visits to Delhi of British Foreign Minister Jack Straw later this week and his US counterpart Colin Powell the following week.

Their visits will be the latest in a series of high-profile efforts by senior Western officials to reduce the risk of a war between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

International condemnation

The massacre in the Qasim Nagar slum area has been widely condemned.

Jammu street
Many shops were closed in Jammu

No militant group has claimed responsibility for it.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell described the massacre as the work of "terrorist thugs" seeking to inflame tensions between India and Pakistan.

The UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said he was "horrified by this attack on innocent civilians".

Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said it was clear the attack was carried out "with the inspiration of Pakistan".

But Pakistan's foreign ministry, in its own denunciation of the attack, said it appeared to be aimed at increasing tension in the region.

It was the worst such attack since Islamic militants raided a military base also near Jammu on 14 May, killing 34 people - an incident which brought India to the brink of war with Pakistan.


The territorial dispute over Kashmir is at the heart of five decades of hostility between India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over the territory.

More than a million Indian and Pakistani soldiers are currently massed along their frontier.

Militant groups are fighting to end Indian rule in Kashmir, and Delhi says they are actively supported by Pakistan.

The BBC's Jill McGivering
"India's patience is again being dangerously tested"
Rahul Bedi, Indian defence analyst
"The Indians are under pressure from Washington not to up tension in the region"
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See also:

14 Jul 02 | South Asia
15 Jul 02 | South Asia
14 Jul 02 | South Asia
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06 Jun 02 | South Asia
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