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India 2 August 2005

Six journalists wounded in separatist violence in Srinagar

Reporters Without Borders condemned blind violence by armed groups against journalists and other civilians today after six journalists were injured, one of them seriously, in a clash on 29 July between rebels and the Indian army in the centre of Srinagar, the main city in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir.

The organisation called on separatist groups to stop targeting the press, whose role is to report the news and inform the Kashmiri and Indian public and the rest of the world about the situation in the disputed province.

The incident began when at least two separatists threw grenades at a police station and then machine-gunned members of the security forces and civilians in the centre of Srinagar. Another grenade exploded just as journalists were arriving to cover the violence.

The clash left two Indian soldiers dead and 14 persons injured including Ejaz Ahmed and Aamir Ahmed of the regional multimedia agency ANI, Manzoor Ahmed of India TV, Muzamil Rashid of the Srinagar Mail newspaper, Firdous Ahmed of the Zee Kashmir TV station and Amir Hussain of the newspaper Subhe Kashmir. The journalists were all hospitalised.

The injured also included cameraman Manzoor Ahmed, who was reportedly in a serious condition with a bullet wound to the abdomen.

Two of the attackers were killed by the Indian security forces at the end of a 24-hour siege. The attack was claimed by the Islamist movements Al-Mansurin and Jamiat-ul Mujahideen, which are opposed to the Indian presence in Kashmir.

In Kashmir has been riven by a separatist revolt since 1989 that has left between 40,000 and 50,000 dead. The violence has continued despite a peace process begun 20 months ago by India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars in their dispute over the region. Journalists have often been targeted and five of them were wounded in a grenade attack last year.

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