|SLUG: 2-269763 India-Kashmir (L)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=INDIA / KASHMIR (L)
INTRO: At least 12-people were killed in Indian Kashmir just hours after a government-sponsored ceasefire took effect. In one incident, three Indian soldiers were killed and 12 wounded by a landmine explosion. Later, two soldiers, five separatists and two civilians were killed in a gunbattle near the line of control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. V-O-A's Jim Teeple has the latest details from our New Delhi bureau.
TEXT: The separatist militant group Hizbul Mujahaddin is claiming responsibility for a landmine attack on a group of soldiers traveling in an Army vehicle near Anantnag about 65-kilometers south of Srinigar.
In a second incident, soldiers came under fire from militants in the border district of Poonch. Army authorities say two civilians died in crossfire between their troops and militants belonging to the Tehreek-e-Jihad organization.
The incidents took place hours after India's unilateral cease-fire took effect. The truce is timed to coincide with month-long Muslim Ramadan observances. While separatist militants have vowed to continue their attacks, separatist political leaders welcomed the cease-fire.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farook Abdullah, a close ally of Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, says the government is prepared for a difficult month ahead.
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At least a beginning has been with a unilateral cease-fire, which the government has offered. We know fully well all the tragedies we may have to face, but we took a decision - a major decision and I think this will be a big thing for the people of the state.
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Under the terms of the ceasefire Indian commanders are under orders not to conduct offensive operations against the militant separatists they have been fighting for 11-years. But, Indian commanders say their troops will respond with force if attacked. (SIGNED)