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World - Asia/Pacific

India battles for strategic peak in Kashmir

The Indian army fires artillery guns at a military camp in Dras as fighting rages in Kashmir

RELATED VIDEO
CNN's John Raedler has the view from the Indian side of Kashmir (June 1)
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Residents in the Pakistani Kashmir region tell CNN's Kasra Naji they are anxious about the status of the fighting with India (June 1).
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 SPECIAL:

Ground Zero: The nuclear question

 

June 1, 1999
Web posted at: 1:24 p.m. EDT (1724 GMT)

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Indian troops backed by fighter jets and helicopter gunships fought Islamic militants Wednesday for a strategic peak in the Indian portion of Kashmir.

Hand-to-hand combat on the 4,600-meter (15,100-foot) Tololing peak raged overnight, while Pakistan moved troops along its side of the Kashmir border. The Indian troops were backed by fighter jets and helicopter gunships.

Indian and Pakistani troops have long skirmished along the U.N.-drawn cease-fire line dividing the Indian and Pakistani territories in Kashmir. Also, various Islamic militant groups have been fighting to gain independence from majority-Hindu India or to join Pakistan.

India has accused Pakistan of giving military backing to the guerrillas in a bid to change the boundary. India's Muslim-majority neighbor admits providing diplomatic and moral support to the rebels.

The fighting has forced tens of thousands of residents to flee their homes on both sides of the boundary.

"The firing did not stop all night," said Nasima Akhtar, who crammed onto a bus with her children to leave the Pakistani village of Nagdar. "We are frightened."

Pakistan said 10 schoolchildren were killed Tuesday when Indian mortar fire hit a school in Nagdar, 121 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan- ruled Kashmir. Indian officials said six people died on the Indian side of the border Monday when a shell hit a government building.

Both India and Pakistan -- who have fought two wars over the Himalayan region since their independence from Britain in 1947 -- have agreed that Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz will come to India for talks. But no date for the meeting has been set, and the two sides have no framework for discussion.

"I am sure the government of India will not believe the Pakistani assurances very easily," said analyst H.K. Dua. "I think Sartaj Aziz in the one visit will not accomplish much."

Pakistan and India are the world's two newest nuclear powers, although neither are believed to have fully developed delivery systems.

New Delhi Bureau Chief Satinder Bindra and Correspondent John Raedler contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
India agrees to Kashmir talks
May 31, 1999
India launches major ground assault in Kashmir; talks set with Pakistan
May 29, 1999
Pakistan pushes for talks to end Kashmir fighting
May 28, 1999
Pakistan seeks U.N. help in Kashmir dispute
May 27, 1999
Indian attack on Kashmir guerrillas raises alarm in Pakistan
May 26, 1999

RELATED SITES:

Contemporary conflicts: Kashmir
Kashmir News Reports
Kashmir Information Network
The Government of Pakistan
Indian Ministry of External Affairs
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