Police: Suspected Rebels Kill 22 Hindus

The Associated Press
Monday, May 1, 2006; 1:41 AM

JAMMU, India -- Suspected Islamic militants raided a village and killed 22 Hindus after lining them up outside their homes in India's portion of the disputed territory of Kashmir, police said Monday.

An additional five Hindus were wounded in the attack Sunday night in Thava, a village 105 miles northeast of Jammu in India's Jammu-Kashmir state, said Sheesh Pal Vaid, inspector-general of police.

Some villagers rushed to a nearby army camp and sought help, and the assailants fled the village by the time security forces reached the area, Vaid said. No other details were immediately available.

No one claimed responsibility for Sunday night's killings. But Vaid said, "It is definitely a terrorist attack," meaning that police suspect that Islamic militants were to blame.

Nearly a dozen insurgent groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989.

Earlier Sunday, police found the bodies of four of nine Hindu cattle grazers who were abducted over the weekend by suspected Islamic militants, said L. D. Mohanty, the deputy inspector-general of police.

The bodies were recovered near Basantgarh, a village in Udhampur district in India, nearly 60 miles north of Jammu.

The fate of the five other missing cattle grazers was not immediately known, Mohanty said. They were abducted from the village on Saturday.

The attack at Thava came three days before the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was scheduled to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders in New Delhi in an effort to find a solution to the decades-old Kashmir dispute.

India and Pakistan, which both claim Kashmir in its entirety, have been observing a cease-fire along the Line of Control dividing Kashmir between them since November 2003. They have been holding talks since 2004 to resolve the decades-old Kashmir dispute, but the progress has been slow.

However, the rebel groups have vowed to continue fighting Indian forces until they succeed in breaking away the Indian portion of Kashmir.

© 2006 The Associated Press