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Twenty killed as violence flares in Kashmir

TWENTY PEOPLE, including 15 separatist guerrillas, four Indian soldiers and one civilian, were killed in gun battles and a landmine explosion in the restive state of Kashmir, army and police officials said.

An Indian army spokesman said eight militants were killed yesterday in a battle with security forces in the Sundabrar forest area, 34 miles south of Srinagar, the state's summer capital.

The army said that six automatic rifles, a grenade launcher, four radio sets and a large quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered. The statement added that a militant and a civilian had also been killed, and three Indian soldiers wounded, in a separate gun battle at Tral in south Kashmir.

Three soldiers were killed and three others were wounded when an army vehicle ran over a landmine near Nehalpora Pattan, 16 miles north of Srinagar. No group admittedplanting the device, but police suspected that it was the work of separatist militants.

Four militants were killed in another gun battle between separatists and Indian forces at Kulgam village, 20 miles south of Srinagar, police said. Another soldier and two militants were killed in a battle in the Qazigund area, 40 miles south of Srinagar. Nearly a dozen militant groups are fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, in a rebellion that has killed more than 25,000 people in the last 10 years.

t Indonesia's military chiefs yesterday defended themselves against accusations of brutal treatment of separatists in the rebellious province of Aceh, north-west Sumatra.

The military is accused of killing at least 2,000 civilians during its nine-year operation in Aceh. Thousands of independence supporters protested outside a meeting of a special parliamentary committee, at which the security forces were accused of widespread abuses. (Reuters)