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Guerillas Ambush Forces in Kashmir

May 13, 2001

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JAMMU, India (AP) _ Suspected Islamic guerillas ambushed security forces in the troubled Jammu-Kashmir state on Sunday, triggering a six-hour shootout that left eight people dead, including a senior army officer.

The guerrillas attacked a police party patrolling near the hilly Samu Sangal area, shooting at them from their mountain hide-out, killing three policemen instantly. Police called on army troops in nearby Jammu for assistance.

Senior army officer Maj. S. K. Dhiman was killed when the troops he was leading to Samu Sangal came under artillery fire, said R. V. Raju, inspector general of police in Jammu.

Three guerillas and a civilian were also killed in an ensuing shootout. Five people were injured, including a farmer living in the area.

Police said it was rare for the militants to attack police so close to Jammu town, a Hindu-dominated area in the mostly Muslim Jammu-Kashmir state. Samu Sangal is 20 miles north of Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu-Kashmir state.

``It shows the militants have succeeded in penetrating deep into the Jammu area,″ Raju said.

Samu Sangal is eight miles east of the line of control separating Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

About a dozen Islamic militant groups are fighting a 12-year insurgency in Kashmir, which both India and Pakistan claim. The militants are fighting for independence from predominantly Hindu India or union with Pakistan.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and funding the insurgency in Kashmir. Pakistan denies it provides material aid to the guerrillas.

At least 30,000 people have been killed in Kashmir since the insurgency erupted in 1989, the government says. Human rights groups put the death toll at twice that number.

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