5 soldiers, 2 militants killed in Indian Kashmir
SRINAGAR, India (AP) -- A team of militants attacked a group of paramilitary soldiers Wednesday morning on the outskirts of the capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, leaving five soldiers and two militants dead and 10 more people wounded, a police official said. It was bloodiest militant attack in the capital in years.
The soldiers were inside a school compound for the children of police officers when the insurgents attacked, officials said. No students or teachers were at the school because of ongoing strikes in the wake of the February execution of a Kashmiri militant. Five of those injured were members of the paramilitary force, the Central Reserve Police Force, and five were civilians, said police official Manoj Kumar Shree.
Officials said earlier that the attack had occurred at a paramilitary camp, which is next to the school. By midday, the entire area was inundated with heavily armed soldiers searching for any surviving militants.
Kashmir has been wracked by more than two decades of separatist violence. While militant attacks have decreased dramatically in recent years, Kashmir has faced weeks of strikes and protests after the hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, who was executed for his involvement in a 2001 attack on India's Parliament that killed 14 people, including five of the gunmen. Many Kashmiris do not believe Guru received a fair trial. Anger in a region where anti-India sentiment runs deep was further fueled by the execution's secrecy.
No one has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, though suspicion immediately fell on Muslim separatists. Ashok Prasad, a top official with the Kashmir police, said the style of attack, with a small team of militants charging through the compound firing on soldiers, "had the signature" of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Indian officials accuse Pakistan's intelligence agency of working with Lashkar-e-Taiba to plan the bloody 2008 Mumbai siege -- an allegation Islamabad denies.
Lashkar-e-Taiba was formed with the help of Pakistani intelligence over two decades ago to put pressure on India over Kashmir. Pakistan has since banned the group but has seemingly done little to crack down on the militants. Many analysts believe they still enjoy state support.
The Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in its entirety by both. The insurgents are demanding either a separate state or a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan.