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 Friday, 22 November, 2002, 17:46 GMT
Kashmir police camp attacked
Indian soldier in Kashmir
Tight security does not always prevent attacks
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir say two militants and six police officers have been killed in a clash in the summer capital, Srinagar.

They said fighting broke out when a two-man suicide squad of unknown origin stormed a reserve police camp.

The incident came hours before a new round of talks between a non-government group and leaders of Kashmiri separatist groups aimed at finding a solution to the dispute over the territory.

The talks were the first since last month's elections, which saw a new chapter opened in Kashmiri politics with the election of a new government and chief minister.

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At least nine police officers were reported wounded in the Srinagar attack which began early on Friday, as two militants stormed the camp at the heart of the city.

The idea was to inflict maximum damage

HK Sareen, police official
"People had completed offering their dawn prayers in the mosques when the militants struck," the AFP news agency quoted an eyewitness, Nasima Bano, as saying.

Police sources said one attacker was killed as he tried to enter through the front gate of the compound.

The other died after a two-hour gunbattle with police in their living quarters.

"The idea was to inflict maximum damage, it was a suicide attack," said HK Sareen, inspector general of the Central Reserve Police Force that was targeted in the attack.

Police have cordoned off the area and are searching for other militants.

Peace moves

A leading separatist Shabir Shah said after the meeting with the non-governmental Kashmir Committee that discussions were inconclusive, and the two sides would meet again on Saturday.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
Mufti Sayeed has taken some radical steps
The talks were overshadowed by a row involving one of the most charismatic separatist leaders, Yasin Malik.

He has accused the leader of the committee, former law minister Ram Jethmalani, of double standards and says he will not join the talks.

Militants oppose the talks, saying that the committee is trying to retain Kashmir as part of the Indian union.

About 30,000 people have died in the last 12 years of rebellion in Kashmir, which has been the trigger of two out of three wars between India and Pakistan since 1947.

Following recent elections in Indian-administered Kashmir, a new government led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has taken office with a pledge to work towards peace.

Mr Sayeed has initiated several measures aimed at reconciliation, including releasing political prisoners and promising financial help to the families of militants killed in clashes with Indian security forces.

But he faces opposition from Hindu nationalist groups who accuse him of going soft on the militants.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Adam Mynott
"This attack has...damaged attempts to bring peace to the region"
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03 Nov 02 | South Asia
25 Mar 02 | South Asia
24 May 00 | South Asia
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