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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK


World: South Asia

Infiltrators driven out, says India

India's navy has been placed on alert in the Arabian Sea

The Indian army says it has driven out what it calls Pakistan-backed infiltrators from five positions they had occupied in Kashmir.

Kashmir Conflict
The infiltrators were forced out of mountain hideouts in the Kargil and Drass areas of the disputed region, as India continued its air and ground offensive in the ongoing conflict.

The BBC's Altaf Hussein in Srinagar says army officials also showed reporters weapons with Pakistani markings that were recovered from the infiltrators after fierce fighting.


Mike Wooldridge in Delhi: "The stand-off may continue for some time"
A senior officer of the Indian Army, Brigadier Ashok Chopra, told the reporters that Indian troops had advanced close to militant positions but were still inside the Indian side of the Line of Control.

(Click here to see a map of the area)

But separatist militant groups in Kashmir say their activists continue to hold onto their positions and the army's claims of advance are not true.

Diplomatic offensive


Islamabad Correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones: "President Clinton's remarks are a diplomatic setback"
India continued efforts to gain world sympathy and said it expects G-8 countries, meeting at the weekend, to back its position on the conflict.

"It is our expectation that G-8 will, based on their recognition of armed intrusion from the Pakistan side, understand that it is Pakistan's responsibility to take the right steps to fully restore the status quo ante along the LoC," an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said.

India's National Security Advisor, Brajesh Mishra, has gone to Paris for a visit that coincides with President Clinton's ahead of the G-8 summit.

Earlier, US President Bill Clinton came in for sharp criticism in Pakistan after he urged Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif to call for the infiltrators to withdraw.

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

Naval alert


[ image: Admiral Sushil Kumar:
Admiral Sushil Kumar: "Navy is in position"
India also put its navy on high alert in the Arabian Sea, to counter a build-up of Pakistani warships.

The chief of India's navy, Admiral Sushil Kumar, said: "They (Pakistan) have made certain deployments....The fact that the Pakistan army, navy and the air force are on full alert makes it imperative that the Indian navy also stays on guard."

He added: "The idea behind bringing our forces to the western theatre is to bring together our maximum combat capability."

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

Both Indian and Pakistan forces are already on high alert on both sides of the Line of Control dividing Kashmir and on the Punjab border.

Several residents living near the border on both sides have begun leaving, as the conflict enters its sixth week.



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