Seven killed in Kashmir violence as Powell arrives

Sunday, July 28, 2002

SRINAGAR, India -- As Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in India to urge restraint and dialogue, seven people were killed in attacks in disputed Kashmir Saturday and Pakistani guns shelled Indian positions along the cease-fire line.

No one was killed in the Pakistani shelling, the heaviest in weeks.

Police in the border district of Kupwara said the shelling focused on the area of Machil, about 80 miles north of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir.

A police spokesman said four civilians were killed and three wounded when unidentified attackers lobbed grenades at a crowded bus station in the town of Budgam, 24 miles southwest of Srinagar.

Indian soldiers killed two suspected Islamic guerrillas in a gunbattle in the state's Kotu Village, 39 miles southwest of Srinagar. A civilian was shot and killed in Magam town, 24 miles south of the capital, the police spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity. He said the man was suspected to be a police informer and may have been killed by militants.

Powell arrived in New Delhi on Saturday evening, kicking off his third South Asian visit in less than 10 months, aimed at a further easing of tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

The South Asian rivals have placed some 1 million troops along their frontier and a series of attacks by suspected Pakistan-based militants nearly pushed the country to a fourth war last month.

India accuses Pakistan of arming, training and funding the Islamic insurgents who have been fighting since 1989 for Indian-controlled Kashmir's independence or merger with Pakistan. More than 60,000 people have died in the fighting in India's only predominantly Muslim state.

Pakistan says it only provides moral and diplomatic support to the guerrillas.

Separatist leaders want Powell to persuade India and Pakistan to settle the dispute through dialogue involving Kashmiris.

"We appeal to leaders of the international community to take interest in resolving the Kashmir issue according to the will of Kashmiris. We make the same request to Powell," said Javed Ahmad Mir, leader of the separatist Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front.

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