Friday, January 19, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Two blasts rock Pulwama
6 Army men, 5 BSF personnel killed 
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, Jan 18 — At least 13 persons including 11 security personnel, were killed in separate incidents of violence in the Kashmir valley since yesterday. Those killed included Bilal Ahmad, driver of a Gypsy of the State Forest Corporation (SFC). The vehicle was used by the militants prior to the attack at the Srinagar airport on Tuesday.

At least five BSF personnel were killed and two injured when the vehicle in which they were travelling was hit by an IED planted by suspected militants at Kahlil Tral in Pulwama district at 9.15 a.m. today.

The police said the vehicle was damaged in the explosion. Those killed included Dinesh Kumar, Budhiyal, Deputy Commandant, 34 Battalion. The police confirmed the death of four personnel in the explosion.

In another IED explosion, at least three Army men were killed and five injured at Kigam near Awantipora on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in Pulwama district at about 9.50 a.m. today.

A police spokesman said eight Army men were injured in the explosion and the vehicle was completely damaged. Sources confirmed the death of three personnel, while unconfirmed reports said six personnel were killed and two injured.

The pro-Pakistan Hizb-ul- Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the two explosions at Khalik Tral and Kigam, Awantipora, both in Pulwama district of south Kashmir. In a statement issued here later today, a spokesman claimed that 15 security personnel were killed in the two incidents.

The police recovered the body of Bilal Ahmad in Ganderbal area today, following an encounter. Two constables also received injuries.

Residents of Rainawari allege that Bilal Ahmad Mir, a driver of the State Forest Corporation, had been killed while in custody. He had been apprehended following the suicide attack at the Srinagar airport on Tuesday.

Police sources here claimed that Bilal Ahmad had revealed much regarding the attack. He had been killed in an encounter while being taken to an undisclosed location in Ganderbal last night.

At least six pedestrians were injured when militants hurled a grenade at a security picket in Nowhatta last evening. Militants also hurled a grenade at a security picket in Safakadal here today. No harm was done.

Wali Mohammad Ganai was killed in an exchange of fire between militants and the security forces near Tujjar Sharief, Sopore, Baramula district. The encounter ensued when a patrol party was fired upon by hiding militants. An injured Wali Mohammad was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, the police said.

The sources said Rashtriya Rifle (RR) troops during search operations in the forest area of Banihal in Doda district came across two militants. When asked to surrender, they opened fire which was returned. One militant, identified as Iqbal Bali, was killed. Another militant who was injured escaped. An AK rifle and two grenades were recovered.


PM rejects meaningful talks with Pak

UDUPI, Jan 18 (UNI) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today rejected any meaningful talks with Pakistan following the recent terrorist attacks and called upon Islamabad to demonstrate its sincerity and commitment to the dialogue process.

In a statement issued here, the Prime Minister said India’s readiness to have talks with Pakistan at any level, including the highest level, had been well-established. However, there could not be any meaningful talks “when the guns of terrorist outfits continue to do their own talking.’’

He said the recent spurt in terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India, unleashed by Pakistan-based militant organisations, had vitiated the atmosphere for the resumption of talks between India and Pakistan.

The Prime Minister said terrorist attacks on security forces and civilians had increased both in number and gravity. The incidents at the Red Fort and Srinagar Airport, combined with the threat to strike at the Prime Minister’s Office, showed that militant outfits were alarmed at the prospects of a fruitful dialogue between India and Pakistan.

He expressed distress that the Pakistani leadership, even though professing eagerness to resume talks with India, had not done anything to restrain the terrorist organisations which operated from Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s argument that violence will stop once talks begin is strange. It convinces neither India nor the international community,” he said.

“We have also strongly demonstrated our sincerity to create a conducive atmosphere for talks through specific confidence-building measures such as unilateral cessation of combat operations in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the continuation of terrorist activities in and outside the state shows that the purpose of our taking these unilateral measures is not being fulfilled,’’ he added.

“The onus of creating a positive atmosphere for bilateral talks rests clearly with Pakistan,’’ the Prime Minister said.

He called upon the Pakistani leadership to demonstrate its sincerity to the dialogue process by unequivocally condemning terrorist violence by Pakistan-based militant groups and effectively checking their anti-India activities. 

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