Rebels, officials die in Kashmir unrest

Ten people have been killed and 16 wounded in a wave of violence in Indian-administered Kashmir, while a senior separatist plans to call a conference of leaders from both sides of the divided state.

    Over 44,000 have died in Indian Kashmir's insurgency

    An army official said on Friday that Indian troops shot dead four members of Kashmir's most powerful Islamic rebel group, Hizbul Mujahedin, while suspected rebels killed a public servant and his son.
    "The militants were killed in two separate clashes late Thursday in the districts of Anantnag and Pulwama," army spokesman Vijay Batra said.
    Both districts lie south of Indian Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar and are considered strongholds of Hizbul, which wants all of Kashmir to be joined with neighbouring Pakistan.
    Also on Thursday, suspected rebels shot dead a government official and his son in the southern district of Rajouri, police said.
    Police blamed rebels for two more shootings in which a village head and a Kashmiri working in the Indian army were killed in the districts of Baramulla in the north and Budgam in the southwest respectively. 

    Police blamed rebels for two
    more shootings in Baramulla

    None of the dozen rebel groups active in Kashmir has claimed responsibility for the four killings.
    A series of five grenade blasts left 16 people wounded in Sopore, 50km north of Srinagar, among them four border guards and a five-year-old girl, police said.
    The explosions went off within three hours of each other, targeting soldiers patrolling on foot and in vehicles, a police spokesman said.
    "Most of the injured were bystanders," he said.
    More than 44,000 people have died in an insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989, according to official figures.

    Separatists and Pakistan say the death toll is twice as high.

    Call for talks

    Meanwhile, senior separatist leader Yasin Malik said on Friday the Kashmir dispute was heading towards a solution and he planned to call a Srinagar conference of leaders from both the Indian and Pakistani zones.
    "This conference will give chance to Kashmiris to speak their minds," Malik told a rally in the northern Kashmir town of Bandipora, 60km north of Srinagar. 

    Malik told his supporters Kashmir

    was heading towards a solution

    India in the past has not allowed such conferences, and observers said it was unlikely Malik would be permitted to stage a meeting.
    He urged India and Pakistan to allow such a gathering as it would push forward the peace process.
    "There is tremendous pressure on India and Pakistan from the
    international community to resolve the dispute," Malik said. "I can tell you with authority that the Kashmir issue is heading towards a resolution."

    Malik's Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front wants to secede Kashmir from both India and Pakistan and make it an independent country. 
    Kashmir is claimed in full by both Pakistan and India.

    The issue has sparked two of three wars between the two countries since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.



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