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12 killed in raid on Kashmir village

India police blame pro-Pakistan Islamic group for massacre

SHARE 12 killed in raid on Kashmir village

JAMMU, India — Twelve civilians — including eight children — were killed in a raid on a remote village in Indian-controlled Kashmir Monday, and police said they suspect a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group.

It was the deadliest attack since Pakistan started clamping down on the rebels.

Two women and a man were wounded when the attackers surrounded Salwa village in the Punch district, about 135 miles northwest of Jammu, the state's winter capital, said Ashok Suri, the state's police chief.

The attackers forced their way into the house of villager Zakir Hussain, a Muslim, and started firing indiscriminately, Suri said.

The eight dead children ranged in age from six months to 12 years. Also killed were two men and two women, officials said. One of the women was Hussain's wife, who was nine months pregnant with twins, they said.

"It is still not clear which group has done this, but one of the pro-Pakistan groups active in the area are definitely behind this massacre," Suri said.

"The motives of the killings are not known. We are investigating. It's a remote village," Suri said.

He said the villagers could have refused demands from the militants to provide food and shelter, or the militants might have thought the villagers were police or army informants.

In another incident, police said two militants were killed Monday in an encounter with the Indian army in Chamalvas in Doda district, 110 miles north of Jammu.

Both were identified as top activists of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group. Five army personnel were injured, two of them critically.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Mukhtiar Singh said a top Hezb-ul-Mujahedeen commander, Ghulam Mohammed Gani, was killed Sunday night in an exchange of gunfire with an army patrol.