Suicide attack on police station provokes gun battle

War on terrorism: Kashmir
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The Independent Online

An Islamic militant was killed on Friday after he barged into a police station in Kashmir disguised as an officer and opened fire, setting off a two-hour gunbattle that seriously wounded three policemen, an official said.

The assault, which police called a suicide attack, occurred in the Chadura police station, 12 miles west of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state.

The identity of the militant, who was killed by police, was not immediately known, the official at the station said on condition of anonymity.

In other violence on Friday in Kashmir, suspected militants attacked a camp of Indian security forces in Srinagar, a security official said.

The attack took place shortly after midnight and one militant was killed in the resulting gunfight at the Karan Nagar camp of the Border Security Forces, BSF Deputy Inspector General S.S. Bhuler said. No BSF troops were injured, Bhuler said.

Bhuler said the militant belonged to Jaish-e Mohammad, a Pakistan-based separatist group that allegedly has links with Osama bin Laden, the leading suspect in last month's terror attacks. The United States has since put Jaish on the list of banned terrorist groups.

Islamic militants, who have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 in Jammu-Kashmir state, appear to have stepped up their attacks in the last few days.

On Thursday, they attacked Indian security forces with land mines and guns in a battle that killed 15 lives, including two children, Indian officials said.

Earlier this week, security forces foiled a suicide attack on an important Indian air base near Srinagar. Four militants drove a car to the entrance of the air base and opened fire. Security forces posted nearby returned fire, killing the militants, officials said.

A security guard and a civilian also were killed in the gunbattle, the officials said. Lashkar-e Tayyaba, a separatist group based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Since it began, the insurgency by Islamic separatist groups in Kashmir has killed more than 30,000 people, the Indian government says.

New Delhi accuses Pakistan of training, funding and arming the militants. Islamabad says it supports their cause without supplying material aid.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over control of Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. India controls two-thirds of the Himalayan territory and Pakistan the rest.