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11/27/02 - TERROR ATTACKS IN KASHMIR - 2002-11-29

Terrorist attacks have claimed some three dozen lives in recent days in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. The terrorism included attacks on November 24th on two Hindu temples in Jammu [JAHM-moo] City that killed at least thirteen people and wounded more than fifty. Most of those killed by the terrorists’ gunfire and grenades were civilians.

The most prominent target of the Kashmir attacks was the Raghunath [rah-GOO-nath] temple, a Hindu shrine in the center of Jammu that is visited daily by large numbers of worshipers. One of the gunmen also attacked a smaller temple before police restored order. This is the second attack this year on the Raghunath temple. A terrorist attack in March killed ten people.

The group calling itself Lashkar-e-Taiba [LAHSH-kahr-ay-tie-ee-BAH] has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the temples. This extremist Muslim group has been carrying out attacks against Indian troops and civilians in Kashmir for about a decade. Lashkar-e-Taiba operates out of various locations in Kashmir and Pakistan. Most of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists are not Kashmiris; they are Pakistanis. Many of them have attended madrassas, religious boarding schools where students are indoctrinated in an extremist form of Islam. Before the ouster of the Taleban regime in November 2001, Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists often trained in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba and condemned its acts of terrorism. The United States has put Lashkar-e-Taiba on its list of terrorist organizations. As Christine Rocca [RO-kah], U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, has said, “Terrorism is something that is unacceptable, no matter where it is, whether it is in India, whether it’s in Pakistan, whether it’s in the United States.”

Kashmir has been a source of conflict between India and Pakistan for more than half a century. Over the past decade, violence in Kashmir has claimed tens of thousands of lives. In addition to terrorism, the violence has included sporadic outbreaks of fighting between Indian and Pakistani troops along the line of control separating the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir.

Both India and Pakistan have to take steps to bring peace to the region and to ensure a better life for the Kashmiri people. In particular, it is up to Pakistan to end support for infiltration of terrorists into the part of Kashmir controlled by India. The problems in Kashmir cannot be resolved through violence.