Suspected Islamic Militants Kill 8 at Indian Army Camp in Kashmir

From Times Wire Services

Suspected Islamic militants struck an Indian army camp Tuesday, killing eight soldiers, including a brigadier, and wounding two generals before being shot to death, police said.

The heavily armed guerrillas hurled grenades and fired wildly as they stormed the camp at dawn about 20 miles northwest of Jammu, the winter capital of India's Jammu and Kashmir state.

The soldiers, including an army Hindu priest, died in the raid that came hours after suspected rebels killed seven people and wounded dozens Monday night in an attack on pilgrims setting out for the Vaishno Devi shrine, one of the holiest Hindu sites in the majority-Muslim state.

The victims were the highest ranking officers to be killed in recent years in the Indian-held portion of Kashmir, where the army has been struggling to quell a nearly 14-year revolt.

India's Parliament -- quick to blame Pakistan in the past -- condemned the bloodshed but counseled restraint.

"There will be attacks like this. We have to make sure we do not get provoked," said Prakash Mani Tripathi, a lawmaker from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads India's governing coalition.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw telephoned his Indian counterpart, Yashwant Sinha, to condemn the attacks, the Indian Foreign Ministry said.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell spoke to Sinha and they agreed on a "measured, step-by-step process" to build on a recent thaw between India and Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Pakistani Information Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed also condemned the violence. "We stand for peace. We want to live like good neighbors," he said. "We support the peace process."

None of the groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, which lies at the heart of half a century of tensions between India and Pakistan, have claimed responsibility for the new attacks.

Security has been tightened for pilgrims bound for Amarnath, another key Hindu mountain shrine in Kashmir.

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