Seven rebels killed in Kashmir clashes

SRINAGAR, India Wed Oct 7, 2009 8:24pm IST

SRINAGAR, India Oct 7 (Reuters) - Indian troops on Wednesday shot dead seven rebels, many of them members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, in fierce gun battles across Kashmir, police said.

The biggest battle took place in Kupwara near the Line of Control, a military line that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, which claim the region in full but rule in part.

"Four LeT militants were killed in the encounter in Kupwara," a police spokesman said, adding that three militants were killed in separate shootouts elsewhere.

New Delhi says the LeT was behind the Mumbai attacks last November in which at least 166 were killed.

Kashmir remains at the core of a six-decade-long conflict between India and Pakistan.

After months of relative calm, there has been a rise recently in separatist violence across Kashmir, where officials say tens of thousands have been killed since a revolt against Indian rule broke out in 1989.

Security officials say Pakistan-based militant groups have stepped up efforts to push into Indian Kashmir before winter snow blocks the Himalayan mountain passes. (Reporting by Sheikh Mushtaq; Editing by Rina Chandran)

INTERNAL SECURITY