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High alert on India-Pakistan border

LAHORE, Pakistan -- India and Pakistan have put their border troops on high alert as the two South Asian rivals trade accusations over this month's suicide attack on the parliament in New Delhi.

While ties between the two have been tense for decades over the disputed region of Kashmir, tension has mounted in the wake of the December 13 parliament raid.

Pakistan and India have both reportedly amassed troops close to their border and several skirmishes were reported along the border in Kashmir over the weekend.

India blames the parliament raid on two Islamic groups -- Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad -- which it says were sponsored by Pakistan's intelligence agency.

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Pakistan has announced that it is freezing the assets of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba even though it says India has not provided any evidence of the group's involvement in the attack.

Pakistan's Information Secretary Anwar Mahmood said the Indian government, so far, has not given the Pakistani government any evidence that Lashkar-e-Tayyaba was behind the attack.

"We have been telling them they should provide evidence to a third party ... if that neutral committee finds someone responsible, certainly we will act," said Mahmood.

On Friday U.S. President George W. Bush added the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba to a U.S. list of terrorist groups. Washington asked Pakistan to ban the group and freeze its assets.

Move against terrorists

Earlier Monday, at the end of an official visit to China, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf promised to crack down on the Lashkar-e-Taiba group if his government found evidence to support U.S. claims it aids terrorism.

"If we find evidence of it, we would like to move against them," Musharraf was quoted by the Associated Press, during the final day of an official trip to China.

"We are already taking measures to move against all groups who are involved in any form of terrorism anywhere in the world."

Several Pakistani army trucks are within 122 meters (400 feet) of the Indian border, according to CNN's Syed Naqvi.

Indian Strike Corps -- trained to swiftly penetrate enemy territory with tanks and armored vehicles before a full-fledged infantry attack -- have been moved nearer the frontier in Punjab and Rajasthan states, Defense Minister George Fernandes said on Sunday.

Border firing

The troop buildup follows a weekend of skirmishes in Kashmir.

While cross-border exchanges are common in Kashmir, shelling had not been reported since the parliament attack.

India said on Monday its troops shelled Pakistani positions in two border areas in Kashmir over the weekend.

Indian troops opened fire over the Sialkot Border in Pakistan's Punjab province, witnesses said, hitting and destroying a tractor and its trailer. Pakistani troops returned fire.

Elsewhere, Indian officials said three border security force men were killed and two wounded when Pakistani soldiers fired on an Indian border post in Kashmir Sunday morning, in the Samba region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The incident could not be independently confirmed.

Indian demands

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India's Vajpayee faces pressure to act unilaterally against terrorists  

India and Pakistan have fought two wars in half a century over Kashmir, a mostly Muslim region that is divided between them but claimed by both.

Both countries tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

While Indian officials have hinted repeatedly at a possible military response to the parliament attack, they have emphasized that war with Pakistan would be a last resort.

India has demanded that Pakistan freeze the assets of the two groups it blames for the attack and arrest and extradite their leaders.

It has recalled its ambassador in Pakistan and is moving to shut down rail and road links.

In another mark of souring relations between the neighbors, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry accused Indian intelligence agents on Sunday of detaining and beating up a member of staff from its New Delhi embassy and called for a thorough investigation, Reuters news agency has reported.

-- CNN Producer Syed Naqvi contributed to this report.



 
 
 
 



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