Tuesday, December 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

11 killed in suicide attack
Bid to storm Army  headquarters in Srinagar

Tribune News Service and agencies

SRINAGAR, Dec 25 — In yet another suicide bomb attack at least 11 persons, including five Army men, were killed and 23 injured near the main gate of the 15 Corps Headquarters at the high-security Batwara this afternoon, official sources said.

A “fidayeen” of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad in a Maruti car (DL-4C 5889) attempted to storm into the Headquarters through the main gate at Batwara around 2.45 p.m., the sources said.

A spokesman of the outfit told the local journalists that it was responsible for the blast.

The blast attack near the Army Headquarters came at a time when Defence Minister George Fernandes was on a brief visit to Srinagar.

A defence press release said two civilians were killed and seven Army personnel injured in the bomb explosion. The statement did not give any further details.

The injured were admitted to Army hospital where the condition of a few of them is stated to be critical.

The sources said an alert sentry had stopped the car before the fidayeen could enter the Army Headquarters. But before he could ask the attacker any question, there was a powerful blast.

The fidayeen and the car were blown into pieces due to the impact of the blast which was so powerful that its sound could be heard in the entire Srinagar city.

Not a single part of the car could be found, sources and eyewitnesses told UNI.

The sources added that three civilians and two army personnel were killed on the spot and 26 others were injured, 10 of them critically.

The sources said three Army personnel and two civilians died in the hospital and condition of three Army personnel and two civilians is stated to be very critical.

The entire road from the Sonawar to Pantha chowk bypass was sealed and nobody was allowed to enter or leave the area.

A group of journalists, including videographers and photo journalists, were also not allowed to go near the site of the blast. The Inspector-General of Police (Kashmir range), Dr Ashok Bhan, was the only police officer who was allowed to go there.

However, all those stranded were allowed to leave the area this evening. Also, security forces allegedly set ablaze a nearby shopping complex. Though the fire was brought under control, three shops were gutted.

However, an official spokesman said a cloth shop caught fire due to blast which later engulfed some nearby shops.


Hizb not to lay down arms

srinagar, Dec 25 (PTI) — Pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen today ruled out laying down arms to participate in talks with the Centre, even as it said it would extend support to peace moves if it realised “that justice is being done to the aspirations of Kashmiris.”

Reacting to the statement of Union Home Minister L K Advani that talks could be held with Hizbul Mujahideen after they lay down arms, its spokesman commander Masood said “to expect Hizbul Mujahideen to lay down arms and participate in any political activity is useless.”

Mr Advani told PTI in an interview yesterday that if militant organisations like the Hizbul Mujahideen were prepared to lay down arms and become part of the dialogue, they were welcome.

“Even if the ongoing process is on the right track and Hizbul Mujahideen decides to extend its support, guns will not come down from our shoulders because complete independence of Kashmir is the foremost goal set by the outfit,” Masood said in a statement to local newspapers.


Pullout has paved way for talks: Pak

islamabad, Dec 25 (PTI) — Pakistan’s military regime has claimed that its partial withdrawal of troops from the Line of Control (LoC) has paved the way for talks with India on the Kashmir issue.

Reacting to Pakistan Muslim League’s (PML) criticism of the troops pullout, an official spokesman said the decision had been hailed internationally and has increased pressure on India to initiate a peace process.

“Pakistan had always stressed the need for a tripartite dialogue for the resolution of Kashmir issue and the consistent stand taken by the government had paved the way for a dialogue on the issue.”

“The Indian side is now sending positive vibes to resolve the Kashmir issue while during the rule of the PML government, they were insisting on the rhetoric of Kashmir as an integral part of India,” the spokesman said.

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