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Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 16:56 UK

Kashmir militants 'regrouping' in Pakistan

Pro-Pakistan Kashmiri militants
Local people fear the militants will start another proxy war

Militants in Pakistani-administered Kashmir have regrouped on the Pakistani side of the divided territory, local politicians have told the BBC.

From 1988, militants aided by Pakistan's security forces waged a guerrilla war in the disputed region.

But their activities were curtailed during the rule of President Pervez Musharraf from 2001 to 2008.

Officials say that in recent weeks "Jihadi activities" have recommenced across the Line of Control (LoC).

The LoC is the de facto border which separates Indian-administered Kashmir from Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

'Scared'

Correspondents say that renewed militant activity is bound to be of concern to India, especially when Delhi and Islamabad almost came to war when militants - accused by India of being Pakistani-based - attacked the Indian parliament in December 2001.

"Jihadi activities have been restarted during the last few weeks," Arif Shahid, secretary general of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA) told the BBC.

"Most of the activities are concentrated in the Neelum Valley along the LoC."

Map

Mr Shahid - who has personally visited the region with other APNA leaders - said that militants were based there in large numbers and have set up camps in the area.

"The men are not locals - they have long hair and beards. Most do not speak the local language," he said.

Local citizens in the Neelum Valley told the BBC much the same thing.

"We are scared," a resident said.

"The armed men are moving around the area and are trying to cross the border.

"We can make out from their appearances and languages they are not from any part of Kashmir."

Mr Shahid said that he believed that the militants were planning to sabotage ongoing Pakistan-India peace negotiations.

"They have set up camps in the region and many are crossing the border," he said.

"This is the start of another proxy war."

His comments are supported by Shaukat Maqbool Bhat, head of the anti-Indian Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF).

"The fighters are there and they are regularly crossing into India," Mr Bhat told the BBC.

"The local people are very scared - they believe the [militant] crossings are going to restart artillery exchanges between the Pakistani and Indian armies."



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