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 Monday, 25 November, 2002, 18:04 GMT
Pakistan condemns Kashmir temple raids
Shelling hits an area 60km from Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir
Shelling hits shops in Pakistan-administered Kashmir
Pakistan has condemned attacks on two Hindu temples in Indian-administered Kashmir in which 14 people died.

But it rejected claims by Delhi that its release of an Islamic hardliner was to blame for the latest violence.

We are against any act of terrorism

Khursheed Kasuri,
Pakistan foreign minister
"Any attack in any part of India is blamed on us. But unfortunately there are things beyond our control," Pakistan's new Foreign Minister, Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri, told the BBC Urdu Service.

India's deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani, had earlier held Pakistan responsible for the temple attacks, saying they followed the release last week of the leader of an outlawed militant group, the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Pakistan Interior Ministry spokesman Iftikhar Ahmed said the government had sought to keep Hafiz Mohammad Saeed in custody, but was overruled by the Lahore High Court.

A statement from Pakistan's Foreign Ministry expressed sympathy with the bereaved families and those injured in the attacks.

Mr Kasuri stressed that Pakistan wanted to normalise relations with India. ''But it is not possible to do that single-handedly.''

Artillery exchange

Amid the political exchanges, India and Pakistan traded heavy artillery fire on Monday across the Line of Control which divides Kashmir.

Terrorists being mentored from across the border... have struck again

Indian deputy PM LK Advani
A woman was killed and at least eight people wounded in the Pakistani zone, while Pakistan's military claimed it had killed or wounded at least 10 Indian soldiers when it returned fire.

The increased tension was also felt at temples and places of pilgrimage in many parts of India, where heavy security was in place.

The series of gunbattles broke out on Sunday around the Raghunath Temple in Jammu, the Kashmir winter capital.

Hundreds of Hindu pilgrims were inside the temple at the time of the attack.

Worshippers fled in panic amid shooting that went on for hours and in addition to those killed, police said at least 50 people had been injured, including two priests.

The security forces finally cornered and shot dead two militants - one of whom had fled to the nearby Panchvaktar temple.

Soon after dawn on Monday, security forces came under fire from the nearby Shiv temple and closed in to shoot a third militant dead.

Landmine blast

The temple attack comes just a day after 12 people, including six soldiers, were killed when a bus hit a landmine in the troubled region.

Separatist rebels are suspected of having triggered the device.

Kashmir attacks:

1 October 2001:
38 killed in attack on Kashmir assembly
13 December 2001:
14 killed in attack on parliament in Delhi
30 March 2002:
10 killed in Raghunath Temple attack
14 May 2002:
34 killed in attack on army camp near Jammu
13 July 2002:
27 Hindus killed in shantytown near Jammu

Violence has returned to Kashmir after a short lull following the appointment of reformist Mufti Mohammed Sayeed as state leader on 2 November.

He came to power promising to try to break the deadlock in Kashmir.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Delhi says this latest attack will test the resolve of the new state government to tackle militancy.

A number of Islamic militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India since 1989.

So far, more than 61,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Earlier this year, the two nuclear neighbours came close to war over the issue, following continued violence by separatists opposed to Indian rule in the disputed region.

  The BBC's Adam Mynott
"The Indian Deputy Prime Minister said the Pakistan based militant group...had been involved"
  Yashwant Sinha, Indian foreign minister
"We are not the aggressors"
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25 Nov 02 | Europe
25 Nov 02 | South Asia
25 Nov 02 | South Asia
21 Nov 02 | South Asia
23 Nov 02 | South Asia
25 Nov 02 | South Asia
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