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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK


World: South Asia

Indian navy put on high alert

Indian navy commandos patrol Wular Lake

India says it is putting its navy on high alert in the Arabian Sea to counter a build-up of Pakistani warships over the continuing Kashmir crisis.

Kashmir Conflict
"Although it (Pakistan) has currently adopted a defensive posture, it is in a position to launch an offensive at short notice," Indian Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sushil Kumar told the Times of India.

"We did not want to be surprised at sea," he said, adding the Pakistan navy had been on alert since Friday.


[ image: The two armies have suffered scores of casualties]
The two armies have suffered scores of casualties
All India Radio reported the move was to ensure the crisis "did not spill over into the sea".

There was no immediate comment from Pakistan on the report.

Officials said earlier this week that India had shifted some ships from their usual stations in the Bay of Bengal to areas off the west coast, bordering Pakistan.


Mike Wooldridge in Delhi: "The stand-off may continue for some time"
Both Indian and Pakistani forces are already on high alert on both sides of the Line of Control dividing Kashmir and on southern borders with Pakistan.

The conflict, sparked by the suspected infiltration into Indian-administered Kashmir by Islamic militants, is now in its sixth week.

India says Pakistani soldiers are fighting alongside the militants, but Pakistan insists it is giving them only moral and not military support.

Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front, a senior Indian official has gone to Paris for a visit that coincides with President Clinton's ahead of the G-8 summit.

US denies policy shift


Islamabad Correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones: "President Clinton's remarks are a diplomatic setback"
The United States has acted to clarify its position following sharp reactions in Pakistan to comments made by President Bill Clinton.

President Clinton had urged Pakistan to call for the militants to withdraw.

P J Crowley of the US National Security Council told the BBC that Mr Clinton's comments did not mean the US had taken India's side.

Washington was still pressing for both sides to show more initiative to resolve the dispute, he said.

Mr Crowley added that he did not see the US becoming a direct mediator in the conflict for the moment.

India hopes that other world leaders will support Mr Clinton's calls at a Group of Eight meeting in Cologne on Saturday, possibly with a joint statement, the Times of India said.

Indian airstrikes 'successful'

On Wednesday, India said operations to flush out the infiltrators from their positions in the mountains had been successful, but there were no plans to cross the Line of Control into Pakistan.


[ image: Thousands of Kashmiris have fled the shelling]
Thousands of Kashmiris have fled the shelling
The BBC's Altaf Hussein in Srinagar said the chief of India's air force had visited the frontline in Kargil and Drass.

Air Chief Marshal A Y Tipnis told journalists that air strikes on militant positions on the Indian side of the Line of Control had been successful but were prolonged because the militants were spread out along ridges in the area.

His pilots were facing a disadvantage, he said, by what he called a self-imposed restriction - not to cross the Line of Control under any circumstance.



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