- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

SRINAGAR, India Gunmen set off a car bomb outside the state legislature in Indian-ruled Kashmir and then opened fire inside the building yesterday, police said.
At least 31 persons were killed and 75 wounded in the volatile region's worst violence in two years.
Two assailants rushed into the Jammu-Kashmir assembly building after a suicide bomber blew up a car he was driving and traded fire with security forces for seven hours before both were killed, police said.
They said many of the casualties were victims of the car bomb, including the driver.
State lawmakers have been meeting in another building nearby because the legislature was damaged by fire recently. None was hurt, but seven employees still working in the building that was attacked were killed, police said. Nearly 100 others escaped unharmed.
For 12 years, more than a dozen Muslim militant groups have been fighting for the independence of Kashmir, the only state in mostly Hindu India with a Muslim majority. Tens of thousands of people have died.
One of the Islamic militant groups fighting for Kashmir independence, the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed responsibility for yesterday's attack.
Police said three attackers drove a vehicle to the assembly building and blew it up at 2 p.m. The driver was killed, but the other two assailants, dressed in police uniforms, got out and stormed into the building firing guns and throwing hand grenades.
The car bomb blast shattered the windows of a nearby hotel and shops and left a dozen bodies lying in the street outside the legislature.
The attack occurred as lawmakers were leaving their temporary assembly hall nearby, and most of the victims were civilians who had been waiting on sidewalks or in cars as police stopped traffic to let the legislators pass.
The death toll was the highest in a single incident since 1999, when 35 Hindus were massacred by militants during a pilgrimage.
India called on Pakistan to take action against Jaish-e-Mohammad.
"At a time when the democratic world has formed a broad and determined coalition against international terrorism, India cannot accept such manifestations of hate and terror from across its borders," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, calling it an act of terrorism that was "especially reprehensible as it appears to be aimed at maligning the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination."
The Himalayan region of Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan after they gained independence in 1947. Both countries claim it in its entirety, and they have fought two wars over it.
Pakistan supports the Kashmiri militants but denies India's claim that it arms and trains the militants, who include some Afghan fighters loyal to Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia.
That has raised concerns about what will happen in Kashmir now that the United States is threatening to punish the Taliban regime unless it hands over accused terrorist Osama bin Laden.

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