|SLUG: 2-270809 India / Kashmir||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=INDIA / KASHMIR (L-ONLY)
INTRO: India says it is determined to push ahead with its peace initiative
in Kashmir, despite a spate of recent attacks by suspected Kashmiri
separatist militants. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, security has
been stepped up following a suicide attack that killed seven people --
including four Indian soldiers - in the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar.
TEXT: Defense Minister George Fernandes says the government will persevere
with its ceasefire in Kashmir and continue its efforts to achieve peace in
the insurgency-wracked Kashmir region. He told Indian radio, the government
will hold talks with Kashmiri political leaders.
The defense minister's assertion came after suspected Muslim militants
staged two high profile attacks, following the government's announcement last week that it will extend its unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir.
An attack on the historic Red Fort in the Indian capital, last week, was
followed by Monday's bomb blast outside army headquarters in Srinagar.
A suspected suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives to the main
gate of the army headquarters, killing soldiers and civilians.
Two Muslim militant groups - the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and the
Jaish-e-Mohammed - have claimed responsibility for the bomb blast in Srinagar.
The two groups - along with other militant groups fighting for Kashmir's
independence from India - have rejected India's peace initiative and are
continuing armed struggle in Kashmir.
Meanwhile, police in New Delhi have arrested one Muslim militant alleged to have been
involved in last week's attack on the Red Fort. Police say his accomplice
was shot dead in a gunbattle that took place when they raided a house in a
crowded Muslim neighborhood. Officials say both men belong to the hard-line
Lakshar-e-Toiba group that had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Security is tight across the Indian capital, following threats by the
Lakshar-e-Toiba to stage more attacks. Police say there is a high alert at
airports, rail stations, bus terminals and government offices.
Kashmir is India's only Muslim-majority region. More than 30 thousand people have
been killed in the region since a Muslim insurgency flared in 1989. The
ceasefire that came into effect in Kashmir in late November is the Indian
government's first significant peace initiative in its decade-long struggle
with the separatists. (signed)
neb / ap / wd