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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
India 'thwarts Kashmir infiltration'
Indian soldiers on patrol near the line of control
Indian soldiers killed seven suspected militants on Sunday
The Indian army says it has killed nine militants who were trying to infiltrate into Indian-administered Kashmir under the cover of darkness.

Indian soldier performs security checks in Srinigar
There are fears September elections may be marred by violence
The army says gun battles broke out as soldiers intercepted three separate groups of militants sneaking across the Line of Control (LoC) dividing the disputed Kashmir region between India and Pakistan.

In the first attack, troops killed two militants trying to cross the LoC at Katwari, an army spokesman told the BBC.

In the next two, three militants were killed at Kandore and four in the Tangrar sector - both while trying to cross the LoC, the spokesman said.

In all three incidents the army had laid an ambush for the militants

India says the battles are firm evidence that cross-border insurgency in Kashmir backed by Pakistan is continuing.

The incidents come three days after seven suspected militants were killed by Indian troops in a gun battle at the LoC, in the Kupwara district.

Tensions high

Tension between India and Pakistan remains high, despite Pakistan stating that it provides only diplomatic and moral support to groups fighting to end Indian rule over Kashmir.


When 700,000 troops of Indians can't block the borders, how can they expect us to block the borders?

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
There are also fears that elections due to begin in Indian-administered Kashmir in September may be disrupted by violence.

On Monday, India's independent election commission said it had no intention of delaying the polls despite such security fears.

Separatist leaders are calling for a boycott of the poll and militant groups fighting against Indian rule have warned people not to take part.

Delhi has already commissioned additional paramilitary troops for the elections, but chief election commissioner said the local administration and security forces were confident they could provide all the necessary security arrangements for the event.

Musharraf assurances

On Monday, in an interview with French news agency AFP, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said that it was possible "individual small groups" were infiltrating the porous border between the two countries.

"When 700,000 troops of Indians can't block the borders, how can they expect us to block the borders?" he said.

General Musharraf said that he had given assurances that "nothing was happening" on the LoC and in turn he expected a response from India.

"This is a step-by-step movement forward towards discussing and solving the Kashmir problem," he said.

"Now I'm not going to take 10 steps when India doesn't take one even."

India says General Musharraf's comments confirm their worst fears.

They were "tantamount to saying that infiltration is still going on with the knowledge and cognisance of the Pakistani authorities", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao told AFP.

She also ruled out the possibility of bilateral talks on the issue for the near future.

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20 Aug 02 | South Asia
19 Aug 02 | South Asia
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