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Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 15:10 UK

India troops die in Kashmir clash

Indian troops in Indian-administered Kashmir
The clashes this year follow a period of relative calm

Two Indian soldiers have been killed in a clash with militants in Indian-administered Kashmir, the army says.

Officials say the clash happened on Monday in Poonch region, close to the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

An Indian army spokesman accused the Pakistani military of providing covering fire for the militants. There is no word from Pakistan.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir and have fought two wars over it.

'Infiltration'

India's army says it is now carrying out a "combing" operation in the Poonch area.

"The Pakistani army is resorting to firing to facilitate the [militants'] infiltration," army spokesman SD Goswami told the Associated Press news agency.

He said that "several militants" were believed to have been killed in the encounter.

Mr Goswani said that there had been several other incidents in which the Pakistani army had helped Kashmiri militants attempting to cross the Line of Control (LoC).

There was no immediate response from Pakistan, but its army has denied similar accusations in the past.

The latest fighting follows Pakistani allegations on Monday that Indian troops had fired across the LoC and killed a girl. India denied the claim.

The two sides regularly exchanged gunfire along the LoC before signing a ceasefire in 2003 and initiating a peace process a year later.

Correspondents say that in recent years there has been relative calm along the LoC, but in 2008 there have been more than 24 incidents with both sides accusing each other of ceasefire violations.

Shooting

In a separate development, police say Indian security forces have killed two militants from the Lashkar-e-Toiba group.

The deaths occurred in a gun battle north of the summer capital, Srinagar, on Monday evening.

But a local news agency quoted local residents as saying that it was a "staged fire fight" organised by the security forces as a cover for killing civilians.

The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar say that the local residents have held protest demonstrations over the killings.

Militants have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989 at a cost of more than 60,000 lives.


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