Indian Forces Battle Kashmir Rebels Near Army HQ
18 November 2003
The Washington Post
Srinagar: A fierce gunbattle between Indian soldiers and suspected rebels erupted near an Indian army headquarters in Kashmir Tuesday, leaving a federal policeman dead and two others wounded, officials said. Indian soldiers and paramilitary troops were battling gunmen who attacked a security post of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Kashmir's main city Srinagar, a defense spokesman said. 'Two columns of the army and the CRPF have jointly launched an operation to flush out the militants,' Lt. Col. Mukhtar Singh told Reuters. A spokesman for the CRPF said one federal policeman died in hospital while two others were injured. Witnesses said they heard many explosions since 6:00 p.m. (1230 GMT) when the firing began. A little-known Kashmiri militant group, al-Mansurain, called newspaper offices in Srinagar, saying it had carried out the attack on a security post near the headquarters of the Indian army's 15th Corps. Guerrillas fighting New Delhi's rule in the disputed territory have repeatedly targeted the heavily guarded headquarters and, in a major attack in 1999, killed an army spokesman in his office. The gunbattle erupted on the same day that the state government announced that militant violence had fallen since a new government took power last November promising to bring a 'healing touch' to Kashmir. A state government spokesman said the number of violent incidents were 16 percent fewer than in the previous 12 months. The calculation, however, did not strip out the effect of an upsurge in violence ahead of last year's state elections.