Militants raid forces in India before India-Pakistan talks, 12 dead

SAMBA, India Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:36am EDT

1 of 3. Indian Army soldiers take up position near an army camp during a gun battle in Mesar in Samba district September 26, 2013. Militants dressed in Indian army uniforms killed eight people in attacks on the Indian police station and army base near the Pakistan border on Thursday, triggering calls to cancel talks between the rival nations' leaders at the weekend.

Credit: Reuters/Mukesh Gupta

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SAMBA, India (Reuters) - Militants dressed in Indian army uniforms attacked Indian police and soldiers near the border with Pakistan on Thursday, killing nine people and triggering calls for talks between the prime ministers of the rival nations to be called off.

Just a day before the twin assault in the disputed Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would meet his Pakistan counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on the weekend.

The leaders of the nuclear-armed neighbors are expected to discuss rising violence in Kashmir. Indian Kashmir's chief minister said the assault was an attempt to derail the talks.

A group of three gunmen attacked a police station in the morning, about 10 km (6 miles) from the border with Pakistan, killing five policemen. They then hijacked a truck and raided an army camp, security forces said. One civilian was killed.

The militants killed three soldiers during hours of fighting at the camp, near the town of Samba.

While helicopters hovered overhead, a Reuters witness heard sporadic explosions and gunfire as Indian forces closed in on, and eventually killed, the gunmen who were holed up in a building.

"All the three militants have been killed in the Samba army camp operation. Three army men including a lieutenant colonel rank officer are dead," said army spokesman Rajesh Kalia.

India's state-run television news channel quoted interior minister Sushilkumar Shinde as saying the militants had entered from Pakistan.

Pakistan's army and government were not immediately available for comment.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.

India has accused Pakistan of supporting militants fighting security forces in Indian Kashmir since 1989.

NEW WAVE?

Militant strikes in India's Kashmir, as well as shooting and mortar fire between Indian and Pakistani forces across the border, have risen this year after a decade of falling violence.

Some Indian officials fear that a new wave of Pakistan-based militants from Islamist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba will turn to India as Western troops leave Afghanistan next year.

In a separate incident, the Indian army said it had killed at least a dozen militants from a group of 30 it said had crossed over from Pakistan into northern Kashmir. Lieutenant General Gurmeet Singh said that operation was still going on.

Immediately after the attack in Samba, politicians from India's nationalist opposition party called for the cancellation of the weekend talks. They will be the first between the two leaders since Sharif was re-elected in May following an election campaign in which he called for better ties with India.

While Prime Minister Singh strongly condemned what he called a "heinous terrorist attack" he suggested the meeting With Sharif, expected on Sunday, would go ahead.

"This is one more in a series of provocations and barbaric actions by the enemies of peace," Singh said in a statement. "Such attacks will not deter us and will not succeed in derailing our efforts to find a resolution to all problems through a process of dialogue."

Yashwant Sinha, a leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition party, said there was no point talking to Pakistan if it was unable to prevent such attacks on India.

"We are not going to achieve anything and therefore I have no hesitation in saying that the prime minister should call off the talks ... I insist he should call off the talks even at this stage." he said.

Pakistan denies arming or training militants, but says it offers moral support to the Muslim people of Kashmir who it says face rights abuses by Indian forces.

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, which tracks violence in Kashmir, 128 people, including 44 security personnel, have been killed in the region this year, before the latest attack. That compares with 117 people killed in 2012.

(Reporting by Mukesh Gupta in SAMBA; Fayaz Bukhari in SRINAGAR; Additional reporting by Sruthi Gottipati in NEW DELHI; Writing by John Chalmers and Anurag Kotoky; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Robert Birsel)

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Comments (4)
Doc62 wrote:
Pakistan has “been in bed” with the terrorists too long. They play both sides against the middle. Lots of US foreign aid$. Hello? How could Bin Laden hide there? Sharif just let the #2 Taliban out of jail? Scary thing, they have NUKES! If a terrorist nuclear crisis occurs, it will most probably come from the Pakis. I’m more wored about that then Iran’s program. I trust Rouhani more than Sharif!

Sep 26, 2013 9:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
truthteat wrote:
small minds want talks cancelled, and militants know this, but those who want talks cancelled should note the militants are attacking forces on both sides and hoping to trigger a war and cancel the talks, even a dummy like me can see thru this.

Sep 26, 2013 11:00am EDT  --  Report as abuse
truthteat wrote:
doc62 your foolish comment should be ignored, because Pakistan released the Taliban guy at the request of the Afghan and US officials. Pakistan is itself at war with militants, if Pakistan fails then India will be next and then the entire region, the world should thank Pakistan, what you are saying is ancient info, Pakistan stopped support to Taliban after 911 but you obviously have a anti Pakistan agenda. You are stuck in the 90′s.

Sep 26, 2013 11:03am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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