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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Indian army kills three rebels in Kashmir clash

SRINAGAR, India, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Indian soldiers shot dead three members of a Pakistan-based militant group in a gunbattle in Indian Kashmir, an army spokesman said on Sunday.

The clash broke out on Saturday evening near the town of Handwara, 80km (50 miles) north of Srinagar.

"Three militants were killed in the night-long operation. They are Pakistani nationals and belong to Lashkar-e-Taiba," army spokesman Hemant Joneja said.

Lashkar-e-Taiba has claimed responsibility for a series of suicide attacks across Indian Kashmir and officials suspect the group has extended its activities to other parts of the country.

Authorities suspect the group is behind a series of train bombings in India's financial hub, Mumbai, on July 11 which killed 186 people.

Separatist guerrillas fighting Indian rule in Kashmir step up attacks during the summer months as snow melts in the region's mountain passes, allowing easier movement of militants from Pakistani territory, police say.

More than 45,000 people have been killed in the separatist revolt since 1989.

In recent days, India has raised security to its highest level in years ahead of the 60th anniversary of the country's independence from British colonial rule.

The occasion has been marred in the past by attacks by Islamic militants in Kashmir as well as other insurgents in the country's northeast.
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