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Attacks in Indian-ruled Kashmir

Police in Indian-ruled Kashmir say suspected separatist rebels have killed at least eight people during attacks on a police station and an army barracks. The assailants hijacked a truck, killing the vehicle's cleaner.

Suspected Kashmiri separatists attacked a police station and then an army barracks in the India-controlled part of disputed Kashmir on Thursday.

Five police officers, two civilians and two soldiers were killed, according to army and police sources quoted by the news agency AFP.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the initial attack in the town of Hiranagar in the Jammu region.

The region's police inspector general Rajesh Kumar said the assailants, some dressed in Indian army uniforms, first sprayed bullets at the station located about one kilometer from Pakistani-controlled territory.

Rebels then hijacked the truck by killing a cleaner on the vehicle and forcing its driver to take them to the barracks, 25 kilometers away in the Samba district, where a lengthy gun-battle took place.

The region is nearly 350 kilometers (220 miles) south of Srinagar, the main city of Indian Kashmir.

Attempt to 'derail' talks?

The top elected official of the Indian portion of Kashmir, chief minister Omar Abdullah, claimed the attacks were aimed at "derailing" scheduled top-level talks.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are due to meet this coming weekend at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Singh condemned the attacks, adding that the talks would go ahead. The attacks would "not deter us," he said.

India's interior minister Sushilkumar Shinde asserted while talking to reporters in New Delhi that "four terrorists came across the border," in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety. In 2003 they reached a ceasefire agreement after fighting two wars.

Since 1989 more than a dozen rebel groups have fought Indian rule, prompting Indian claims that Islamabad was not doing enough to rein in militants.

ipj/rg (dpa, AP, AFP)