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Pakistan Says Bus Hit in Kashmir

August 16, 2002

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MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ A shell fired by Indian troops hit a bus in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir on Friday, wounding six people, three of them critically, Pakistan said.

The bus was struck during a heavy exchange of fire in the strategic Neelum Valley, 40 miles northeast of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, said the deputy police commissioner in the capital, Mehmoodul Hassan Raja.

Military officials said thousands of residents were forced to remain indoors because of heavy overnight shelling by Indian forces on military posts and in residential areas of the Neelum Valley and the region of Chakothi, also near the border.

The fighting came as both India and Pakistan celebrated their independence from Britain this week.

During their respective holiday speeches, each of the country’s leaders blamed the other for prolonging the conflict over Kashmir, a Himalayan region both countries claim in its entirety.

Pakistan called upcoming elections in India-controlled Kashmir a farce, while India continued to accuse its neighbor of funding and arming Islamic militant guerrillas waging a separatist movement in Kashmir.

Pakistan denies it finances or arms the Kashmiri separatists, but proclaims support for their movement.

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