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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
Fresh Kashmir fighting kills 15
Indian soldier patrols Srinagar
Indian troops engaged suspected militants on
A fresh upsurge of violence in Indian-administered Kashmir had claimed at least 15 lives in separate incidents.

Eight suspected Muslim militants were killed in a clash with Indian troops in Pulwama district on Friday, the army said.

Other incidents include the death of three members of a wedding party who had been kidnapped by gunmen.

The violence comes as Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has made a fresh plea for peace talks with Pakistan.

The clash in Pulwama district occurred on Friday evening in the village of Haskur.

An army spokesman said the troops had specific information about the presence of militants in the area.

Beside the eight suspects killed, six Indians were wounded in the clash, the spokesman said.

Earlier, three suspected members of the militant Lashkar-e-Toiba group were shot dead in Rajouri district. One civilian was also killed in that clash.

The kidnap incident also occurred in Rajouri district.

Police say militants abducted eight members of a wedding party in the village of Samoot at about midday on Friday.

Three of those captured were shot dead in the evening but five managed to escape - one of them with gunshot wounds.

The victims were members of the Muslim community. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the incident.

Peace call

Prime Minister Vajpayee on Friday said violence in Jammu and Kashmir had "come down marginally" in recent months.

He called on Pakistan to "completely remove the sword of terrorism" as a preliminary to "fruitful" dialogue.

"We have fought three wars and both countries should realise that nothing can be achieved through war," Mr Vajpayee said.

India and Pakistan have disputed Kashmir for half a century - but after coming close to war last year, they have ordered the restoration of full diplomatic ties and air links.

Delhi accuses Islamabad of supporting Muslim militants in Indian-administered Kashmir - an accusation rejected by Pakistan.


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