Kashmir Militants Vow End To Random Grenade Attacks
19 December 2007
Srinagar: The main Muslim rebel group fighting Indian rule in the Himalayan region of Kashmir on Wednesday announced a complete ban on militant grenade attacks in public places. The move by the hardline pro- Pakistani group Hizbul Mujahideen comes as part of an apparent initiative by militant groups to win more public support for a rebellion that frequently claims the lives of civilian bystanders. 'There is a complete ban on grenade attacks by Hizbul and other outfits,' or fellow members of the Pakistan-based United Jihad Council, Hizbul Mujahideen's operations chief Hizbul Mujahideen said in a statement carried by local newspapers. Hizbul Mujahideen, one of over a dozen rebel groups that has been fighting Indian troops since 1989, said such attacks were banned because 'the movement is passing through a crucial phase and we need the utmost caution.' Militant tactics include frequent grenade attacks against Indian army bunkers and vehicles, although the targets are invariably protected by wire mesh. The grenades regularly bounce back and explode among civilians, or otherwise provoke random retaliatory gunfire. Observers believe that roughly 1,500 bystanders have died in such explosions over the past 18 years, although the militants have blamed Indian troops for the deaths as part of a campaign to 'defame' the militant struggle. The statement from Hizbul Mujahideen comes just over a week after a prominent hardline seperatist, Syed Ali Geelani, Syed Ali Geelani, said militants should not kill Kashmiris accused of being informers. Indian police regularly report on alleged punishment killings by militants, although the rebels have again said Indian intelligence agencies are to blame. The unrest that started in 1989 has left more than 42,000 people dead by official count. Human rights groups put the toll at 60,000 dead and 10,000 missing. The insurgency has left at least 42,000 people dead, more than a third of them civilians, according to official figures. Human rights groups say the toll, including disappearances, is nearly double that figure. India and Pakistan both control parts of Kashmir and claim it in full.