'Nine Killed' In Kashmir Battle
28 January 2006
Jammu: Seven separatist militants and two soldiers have been killed in a gun battle in Indian-administered Kashmir, the Indian army says. The fighting took place in the Poonch district near the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir. India says it is the first major incursion from Pakistani-administered Kashmir in some time. India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over the divided Himalayan territory. 'Focus' The Indian army says it spotted the militants early on Saturday morning. Troops opened fire and in the ensuing battle at least seven militants were shot dead as well as two soldiers, including one major, the army says. Senior army official Lt Gen Sudhir Sharma told the BBC he was not surprised at where the militants had chosen to cross the LoC. 'We knew that this was going to happen when the passes of Kashmir are snowbound. Then Poonch and Rajouri areas become the focus of infiltration.' India accuses Pakistan of training, arming and funding Islamic militancy in the region, a charge Islamabad strongly denies. Pakistan admits extending 'moral, political and diplomatic support' to Kashmiris seeking independence from India. Peace talks have been taking place since 2004, but correspondents say there is little sign of progress in resolving the two countries' rival claims to Kashmir. More than 40,000 people have died in nearly two decades of conflict in Kashmir.