9 Killed in Kashmir Gun Battle
MUJTABA ALI AHMAD
Jul. 12, 2002
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SRINAGAR, India (AP) _ Two Indian soldiers and seven Islamic militants were killed during a gunbattle Friday after the army surrounded a suspected guerrilla hide-out, the army said.
Two soldiers were wounded in the fighting about 120 miles northwest of Jammu, the winter capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state, and troops were scouring the area for more militants, the army said. The claim could not be independently confirmed.
The divided region has witnessed a secessionist Islamic insurgency since 1989, and is the cause of two wars between India and Pakistan, which both claim all of it.
Another Indian soldier was killed Friday in Pakistani firing across the border in the Hiranagar sector, 55 miles south of Jammu, police said.
Indian forces say that Islamic militants _ who are fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan _ attack almost daily in the disputed territory. More than 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 1989.
In Pakistan, a key guerrilla leader was quoted Friday as saying the Kashmir struggle goes on despite Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's promise to stop fighters from crossing into Indian controlled-territory.
``The militancy continues with full force,'' Syed Salahuddin told the Pakistani monthly Herald. ``In guerrilla warfare, there are many ups and downs but it does not mean that militancy has subsided or our policy has changed.''
Salahuddin is the Pakistan-based head of the United Jehad Council, an alliance of 15 groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir.