SRINAGAR, India (AP) – Security forces on Saturday stormed two buildings from where suspected militants were firing guns in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, killing both attackers in a standoff that lasted more than 24 hours, police said.

At least two soldiers were killed in a battle that began Friday after the suspected rebels launched a deadly grenade attack, said Gopal Sharma, the director general of police.

“The operation has ended with the recovery of the bodies of two insurgents,” Sharma told The Associated Press.

Sharma said Islamic separatists are intensifying attacks to scare away tourists who have started visiting the Kashmir Valley following an easing of tensions between India and Pakistan.

On Friday, the attackers hurled a grenade at a police jeep and began firing into a security post on the central boulevard of Srinagar, the summer capital of India’s portion of Kashmir, a Himalayan territory also claimed by Pakistan and divided between the two countries.

As security forces fought back Friday, the attackers set off another grenade, wounding several civilians. The attackers slipped into the nearby buildings during the ensuing confusion, said S.A. Sayeed, a senior police officer.

Two Indian soldiers were killed and nine wounded in the gunfight. At least 10 civilians – eight of them journalists – were hurt in the crossfire, he said.

Authorities have not named any militant group suspected in the attack, but The Associated Press received a fax that said it was from the Pakistan-based group Jamiat-ul Mujahedeen, and claimed responsibility for the attack.

The statement – signed by Jamil Ahmed, who claimed to be a Jamiat spokesman – said four militants were involved in the attack, which was carried out jointly with another group, al-Mansurian.

Indian security forces believe al-Mansurian is an affiliate of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, one of Kashmir’s fiercest guerrilla groups.

More than a dozen Islamic rebel groups have been fighting in India’s portion of Muslim-majority Kashmir for the territory’s independence from predominantly Hindu India, or its merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan. The 15-year insurgency has claimed more than 66,000 lives, mostly civilians.

AP-ES-07-30-05 2057EDT


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