Index

SLUG: 2-270759 India Killings (L-only)cq DATE: NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=12/23/00

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=India Killings (L-only)cq

NUMBER=2-270759

BYLINE=Anjana Pasricha

DATELINE=New Delhi

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

///Editors re-issuing to put the correct number on this CR. It should be 2-270759.///

INTRO: In India, security forces have launched search operations for a suspected Kashmiri suicide squad which gunned down three people at the historic Red Fort in the Indian capital. From New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha reports the attack comes days after the Indian Prime Minister extended the current unilateral cease-fire in Kashmir.

TEXT: Police have thrown a tight security cordon around the Red Fort - an

imposing red sandstone monument that is a popular tourist attraction, and also houses a military garrison.

Hundreds of soldiers are hunting for suspected Muslim militants who stormed the Red Fort (Friday) and killed an army soldier, a civilian employee of the Indian army and a barber. Police say, the gunmen opened fire at three places

inside the massive Fort.

A security alert has also been sounded in New Delhi following the attack - the first ever on an army camp in the Indian capital.

Police say it is not clear how the gunmen managed to enter the well-guarded Red Fort - one of the most high profile targets in the country. The Indian Prime Minister makes his annual independence speech from the historic fort

every year.

The army also uses the Red Fort as an interrogation center, and hundreds of

suspected Muslim separatists have been questioned here in the past.

The hardline militant group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group has strongly opposed recent peace initiatives taken by the Indian government in Kashmir.

In a statement Saturday, the group has warned of more attacks against Indian security forces if India does not withdraw troops from Kashmir.

In recent weeks, Indian authorities have blamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba for several attacks targeting security camps in Kashmir where Indian forces are

observing a cease-fire.

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However while most Islamic militant groups continue to oppose the cease-fire, a frontline Kashmiri militant group has extended a cautious welcome to the government's peace initiatives in Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahideen's commander, Abdul Majid Dar said in a statement (Friday) that New Delhi's extension of the cease-fire in Kashmir and Islamabad's recent partial troop withdrawal are "sincere and important decisions."

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Kashmir has been wracked with a Muslim insurgency since 1989. The recent cease-fire announced by the Indian government is the first significant peace initiative in the region. (signed)

NEB/AP/PLM