Kashmir rebels step up their assaults

Twelve people have been killed in the strife-torn region as Kashmiri fighters vowing revenge for the killing of a commander attacked Indian troops in waves.

    Indian troops carry a soldier injured in weekend battles

    A spokesman for the paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) said a Kashmiri fighter was shot dead after trying to storm a fortified base in Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital on Tuesday.

    The fighter is believed to be a Pakistani and Jaish-e-Muhammad fighter, said the spokesman.

    In a separate incident, a civilian was killed and 12 others, including five soldiers, injured in an explosion followed by gunfire from fighters in an ambush at an army convoy in south Kashmir, said police.

    The ambush took place at Chursoo, 35km south of Srinagar when a convoy was on the move towards the winter capital of Jammu.

    Kashmir's dominant rebel group, Hizb al-Mujahadin, claimed responsibility for the attack, the third on the main highway since Monday.

    The killings continue a wave of violence which has ravaged Indian-administered Kashmir since a top rebel was gunned down at the weekend.

    In one incident, suspected Kashmiri fighters executed a Muslim family of five in Indian Kashmir overnight, cut the main highway and raided a military base. 

    Police said suspected fighters stormed the house late on Monday and killed the family after accusing them of being informers. 

    In another incident, a group of Muslim separatists killed a local politician and four others after barging into his house in the Banhihal area of Doda district, 250km north of Kashmir's winter capital Jammu, late on Monday.

    The politician, Khadim Hussain, was a member of Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a police spokesman said on Tuesday.

    "The fresh violence is the manifestation of anger by militants over Gazi Baba's death"

    Indian policeman

    Kashmir police also shot dead five suspected rebels in Surankote area of the Poonch border district, 210km west of Jammu, he said.

    Three policemen were also injured in the gunbattle which took place late on Monday.

    Rebel leader shot
    Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in full by both, has been rocked by violence since Indian troops on Saturday gunned down the region's "most wanted" separatist, Gazi Baba, in Srinagar, the summer capital.

    "The fresh violence is the manifestation of anger by militants over Gazi Baba's death," a police officer told AFP at the end of a bloody day on Monday in which 16 people died.

    Baba headed the Jaish-e-Muhammed group and was accused by India of masterminding an attack on its national parliament in December 2001 that killed 14 people, including the five


    Bloody month

    A total of 236 Kashmiris were killed by Indian forces during

    August 2003 including seven women and two children, according to statistics compiled by the Kashmir Media Service.

    The pro-separatist agency said 14 of the dead were killed in custody. It had also compiled reports of 32 women molested or gang-raped by Indian army personnel during the month.

    Another 26 Kashmiris, mostly youths, disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

    A 14-year insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir has claimed more than 38,000 lives, according to Indian officials. Separatists put the toll between 80,000 and 100,000.



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