U.S. official hails Pakistan border efforts

Statement follows India's claim of more infiltrations

August 25, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage concluded a round of talks with leaders from Pakistan and India yesterday and credited Pakistan with reducing the cross-border infiltrations by Muslim guerrillas that have increased tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Speaking a day after a border clash set off a fresh round of claims and counterclaims between the countries, Armitage said he accepted the statement by Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, that he is not aiding Islamic militants who are still crossing from Pakistan into Indian-held Kashmir.

"There is some obvious infiltration across the Line of Control, but our friends here assure me that this is not being sponsored by the government of Pakistan," Armitage said, referring to Musharraf.

In New Delhi on Friday, Indian officials called on Armitage to put additional pressure on Musharraf to seal the border. Indian officials say that after decreasing in June, infiltrations and violence in Kashmir are rising again.

The Indian police said yesterday that 10 Muslims, including three women, were killed in two overnight attacks in Kashmir, where a 12-year separatist insurgency has claimed more than 35,000 lives. Investigators said the victims were nomadic Gujjar herders, a group embroiled in a local political dispute. The throats of all 10 victims had been slit.

In three other attacks yesterday, two men were shot dead in different parts of the state, and at least 19 people, mostly schoolchildren, were injured when a grenade exploded on a street outside the southern town of Anantnag. The Indian police blamed militants for the attacks.

Armitage's meetings with Pakistani officials came a day after Pakistani officials accused India of carrying out a "highly escalatory" air and ground attack to capture a strategic post on the border in Kashmir. Indian officials said that there was routine shelling between the sides and that Pakistan was wildly exaggerating what occurred.

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