Beliefnet
SRINAGAR, India, Nov. 28 (AP) - Separatists in Kashmir attacked Indian forces Tuesday in violence that left 13 people dead during the first day of a Ramadan cease-fire that the government had hoped would bring the insurgents to the peace table, Indian officials said.

The victims, including two civilians, were killed in a gunbattle and in the explosion of a land mine detonated by guerrillas, the military said. The major militant groups have rejected the cease-fire called by the Indian government last week.

Two soldiers, five militants and two civilians died, while five soldiers were injured in a shootout at Sawjian in the mountainous frontier area, when the militants fired on a patrol, the military said. The two civilians died in the cross fire between soldiers and guerrillas who were allegedly from the Tehreek-e-Jihad Islami group.

An official with the federal Home Ministry said four Indian soldiers were killed and 18 were wounded when guerrillas triggered a land mine under an army vehicle, blowing it 15 feet ( five meters) into the air. The blast occurred at Nowpora Dooru, 75 kilometers (50 miles) south of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir.

The Pakistan-based Hezb-ul Mujahedeen, the largest of 14 guerrilla groups fighting in Kashmir, claimed responsibility for the explosion.

``We are responsible for the land mine. We don't know anything about the shootout,'' said spokesman Salim Hashmi.

Armed separatists who want an end to Indian rule in Kashmir have waged an 11-year uprising that has left more than 30,000 people dead.

The latest violence occurred hours after India's cease-fire went into effect as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began in Kashmir. The unilateral cease-fire calls for Indian security forces to open fire only as a last resort.

Predominantly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan have both claimed Kashmir since Britain ended colonial rule in 1947 and carved up the subcontinent. Under a 1972 agreement, India controls two-thirds of the region and Pakistan the rest.

The two countries have gone to war twice over Kashmir. India alleges Pakistan arms and funds separatist guerillas who operate from Pakistani territory. Pakistan says it gives them moral but not material support.

Kashmir's most powerful opposition political body, an association of 23 separatist groups called the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, welcomed the cease-fire and said the way is open for talks with the government.

Omar Farooq, Kashmir's senior Islamic leader, said Monday that Hurriyat may be willing to drop its insistence that Pakistan be directly involved in any negotiations.

The Indian government has refused to negotiate with Pakistan since an 11-week border conflict last year that India blames on Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who took power in Islamabad in a bloodless coup in October 1999.

After Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the planned cease-fire a week ago, Pakistan's government said it would be nothing but a ploy unless India offers negotiations.

Many Kashmir residents welcomed the cease-fire; others were ambivalent.

``For me the cease-fire only means that for one month there will be no cordon and search,'' said Muzaffar Ali, a college student, referring to operations in which Kashmiris are called out of their homes as Indian troops search for suspected guerrillas.

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