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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
School attack in Kashmir
Polling station in Indian administered Kashmir
Violence has risen since elections were announced
Suspected militants have opened fire at a school in Indian-administered Kashmir, killing a teacher and a teenage student.

Police say the gunmen burst into the high school in the remote village of Jamlaan about 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Jammu and sprayed gunfire indiscriminately before escaping.

The latest violence came as opposition Congress leader Sonia Gandhi urged the Indian Government to hold unconditional talks with all those concerned to resolve the dispute over the territory.

In Delhi, meanwhile, the US ambassador said incursions by Islamic rebels into Indian-held Kashmir had risen since elections were announced there.

Ambassador Robert Blackwill said his government expected Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to meet his commitment to end cross-border infiltration permanently.

General Musharraf maintains his country is doing all it can to stop the militants.

He told a security conference in Islamabad on Thursday that his government was neither allowing, nor sponsoring militant incursions from Pakistani territory.

"If India with a larger force deployed cannot seal the Line of Control, it should not expect this from Pakistan," he said.

Congress rally

There was heavy security in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, for opposition leader Sonia Gandhi's first visit since elections were announced in August.

Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi put off an earlier visit
Bomb squads and special paramilitary soldiers were deployed in and around a sports stadium where she addressed a campaign rally.

Mrs Gandhi told the 2,000 people present that her party had offered its full co-operation in resolving the Kashmir problem.

She called for unconditional talks with the people of all the three regions of Indian-administered Kashmir.

These should include "those with doubts in their minds" - a reference, correspondents say, to the separatists.

An earlier Congress rally was cancelled after suspected Islamic militants assassinated a Kashmiri minister while he was campaigning.

On Tuesday, a grenade exploded at the local Congress Party headquarters, leaving three people injured.

Fresh attacks

In another part of the state, eight people including five Indian soldiers and three civilians were killed overnight by suspected militants in Rajouri district.

Police say the clash took place in a forest some 170 kilometres west of Jammu.

The elections have been marked by violence, with nearly 20 political activists killed in the past six weeks.

Election Dates

Phase 1: 16 Sept
Phase 2: 24 Sept
Phase 3: 1 Oct
Phase 4: 8 Oct
Results due: 12 Oct
But the first of four days of voting, which took place on Monday, were largely peaceful with a voter turnout of 47%, according to India's Election Commission.

On Wednesday suspected militants shot dead a senior activist in the ruling National Conference party in Srinagar.

Voting will take place in both Srinagar and Jammu in the next round, which takes place on 24 September.

Almost 1.5 million people were eligible to cast their votes in the first phase of elections.

The rest of Indian-administered Kashmir heads to the polls in three more rounds, the last being held on 8 October.

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19 Sep 02 | South Asia
15 Sep 02 | South Asia
14 Sep 02 | South Asia
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