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India ups pressure on Pakistan

Kashmir has been a flashpoint between the two nuclear foes for more than half a century
Kashmir has been a flashpoint between the two nuclear foes for more than half a century  


NEW DELHI, India -- Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani says Pakistan must tear down militant infrastructure as well as halt infiltration into Indian-controlled Kashmir before tension between the two nuclear rivals could ease.

In the first response by India's government to a weekend massacre that killed at least 27 Hindus in Jammu City in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Advani told parliament on Tuesday that his country was "absolutely united" in its will to defeat terrorism.

"The issue is not just infiltration. The issue is the infrastructure that they have built up for cross-border terrorism -- terrorist camps, training, money, arms which are given," Advani said.

Calling it a "horrendous incident," Advani did not specifically blame Pakistan for Saturday's attack, but implied that Islamabad was responsible in an indirect way because, he said, of its traditional support and aid for militants operating in Kashmir.

As India searches for the gunmen involved in the massacre, Pakistan has condemned the weekend attack, which observers say could once more stoke tensions between the two nuclear neighbors.

Grenade attack

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Meanwhile a massive explosion ripped through a government building in Kashmir on Wednesday, killing at least three and critically wounding nine others, according to police and eyewitnesses. (Full story)

And just hours before Advani's speech to parliament Tuesday, thirteen people were wounded in a grenade attack in the northern part of Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir.

Police said they suspected militants threw the grenade into a crowded marketplace about 55 kilometers south of Srinagar on Tuesday.

As the attacks continued, Advani said it was a mistake to rely on assurances from the United States that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will take action to curb cross-border militancy.

"'General Musharraf seems to be our best bet.' This is what the Americans are saying," Advani told parliament during his 45-minute address.

"We do not agree with that. India has to succeed against terrorism using its own strength."

Anger

The address -- Advani's first major speech since taking up the post of deputy earlier this month -- was delayed until late Tuesday after opposition lawmakers filed an adjournment motion, criticizing the government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Opposition politicians deemed Advani's speech as inadequate and staged a walkout shortly after the deputy ended his address.

Also on Tuesday, Jammu reopened for business as life began to return to normal. The city, in the mainly Hindu southern part of the state, had until recently escaped much of the violence that had wracked the Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Indian police are yet to identify Saturday's attackers and no-one has claimed responsibility.

Authorities have said they suspect Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba -- a group blamed for the suicide raid last December on parliament that triggered a tense standoff with Pakistan and almost led to war.

Setback

Paramilitary troops patrol the shanty town where the attack took place
Paramilitary troops patrol the shanty town where the attack took place  

External Affairs (Foreign) Minister Yashwant Sinha told local media that efforts to normalize relations with India's nuclear neighbor Pakistan had been dealt a blow by the attack.

"It has been hit after [the]... incident," Sinha told Aaj Tak news television, without elaborating.

Pakistan has condemned the incident, saying it was aimed at increasing tensions between India and Pakistan.

The incident was the latest in a series of deadly attacks spurred by a long-running dispute between nuclear powers India and Pakistan over the flashpoint of Kashmir.

Tensions peaked in May when both nations posted more than 1 million troops along their shared border and the Kashmiri Line of Control, which divides the disputed region between them.

Parliament raid

A December raid on India's parliament and a May attack on an Indian army camp near Jammu stoked the tensions, which were only eased after Islamabad bowed to intense U.S.-led diplomatic pressure and pledged to stop guerrillas crossing the porous border into Indian Kashmir.

Since 1989, a Muslim separatist revolt has raged in Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority province in predominantly Hindu India.

New Delhi has accused Pakistan of providing funding and training to militants it accuses of carrying out a series of attacks against Indian targets, including a daring raid on the Indian parliament.

Pakistan denies the Indian charges saying that it gives only moral support to groups fighting what it calls a "freedom struggle" in the disputed Muslim majority region of Kashmir.

The Himalayan region has been the trigger for two of the three wars between India and Pakistan since the two were created by Britain's partition of the subcontinent at independence in 1947.



 
 
 
 






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