India kills five suspected Islamic militants

JAMMU, India, AP

The army killed three suspected Islamic militants Saturday after they crossed into Indian-controlled Kashmir from Pakistan, an army spokesman said. It was the first such incident since Islamabad promised to end such incursions last month.

The three intruders were killed during an hour-long exchange of gunfire in the Sagwari sector, half a kilometer (mile) from the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, the army’s spokesman said on condition of anonymity. The area is in Punch district, 210 kilometers (130 miles) northwest of Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu-Kashmir state.

The incident comes after Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf told U.S. officials that he would permanently stop cross-border infiltration by Islamic guerrillas. That promise — first made on May 27 and then repeated recently — pulled nuclear-armed India and Pakistan back from the brink of war.

The army also raided a militant hide-out overnight and killed two guerrillas in Angan Patri, a nearby village in Punch district, the spokesman said.

More than a dozen militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. The government says more than 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

India accuses Pakistan of training and arming Islamic guerrillas, a charge Islamabad denies.

On Friday, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ruled out the possibility of war with Pakistan, but expressed doubts that Musharraf would keep his promise to permanently stop incursions by Islamic militants into Indian-controlled Kashmir.