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Twelve dead in Kashmir raids

Indian Border Security Force personnel with the corpses of two dead militants, killed in an encounter with troops in Kupwara near the Line of Control that divides Kashmir
Indian Border Security Force personnel with the corpses of two dead militants, killed in an encounter with troops in Kupwara near the Line of Control that divides Kashmir  

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- In the first of two deadly raids, militants have attacked a group of Hindu pilgrims on the Indian side of Kashmir, killing eight and wounding 32, 14 of them seriously, Indian police sources told CNN.

In a gun battle that followed with Indian security forces, a militant was killed.

The attack occurred 100 km (62 miles) south of Srinigar near the international resort of Pahalgam.

The militants lobbed hand grenades and then fired indiscriminately at the group of Hindu pilgrims at a camp, the sources said.

In a second incident, Indian police said militants attacked an Indian army post in Handwara late Tuesday morning. An Indian soldier an two militants died, police said.

Handwara is some 100 km north of Srinigar.

The attacks come shortly after India announced it will hold elections beginning September 16 on the side of Kashmir it controls.

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There was no immediate comment from the Indian government, and, although Indian sources are blaming militants, no militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Some 500,000 Indian troops have massed along the border because of the ongoing violence in the region.

The Indians complain Pakistan is allowing militants to infiltrate across the border from the Pakistan-controlled side. Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, has said he has ordered his troops to halt such infiltration.

Kashmir election violence warning

Since that commitment from Musharraf, New Delhi says the number of incursions has reduced, but still continue.

Local media on Sunday reported that violence in the disputed region could increase ahead of the two-phased state-legislative elections to be held in Jammu-Kashmir during September and October.

Following last week's announcement of the poll schedule, security agencies stumbled on a plan to target one politician every day in a bid to sabotage the elections, the Press Trust of India reported.

Unnamed official sources told the PTI that several militant groups had directed their members to carry out attacks on offices of various political parties as well as discourage anyone from voting.

Officials say elaborate security measures will be made to ensure there is no disruption to the polling.

The State Assembly elections, which many Kashmiri separatist leaders oppose and have claimed will be rigged by the federal government, could help ease tensions between India and Pakistan, both of whom claim the Himalayan province.

New Delhi hopes that a good voter turnout and peaceful and fair process will ease tensions and curb human rights abuses in the northern state, as well as appease estranged Kashmiri political parties and bring them back into the federal fold.

Voter turnout in elections in Kashmir has been poor in the past due to fear of reprisals by Islamic militants.


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