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India asks Pakistan to rein in Islamist militants

NEW DELHI — India’s prime minister asked Pakistan on Thursday to prevent Islamist militants from using its territory as tensions rise between the longtime rivals following the recent killing of five Indian soldiers in fighting along the disputed Kashmir border.

India believes that Islamabad is not doing enough to rein in militants. It says the Pakistani military has nurtured them to fight a covert war over Kashmir, though Pakistan denies the claim.

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that for relations with Pakistan to improve, it is essential that Islamabad prevent the use of its territory for any activity against India.

Singh made the comment in a speech marking the anniversary of India’s 1947 independence from Britain. He is under pressure from India’s political opposition to adopt a tougher policy toward Pakistan.

The killing of five Indian soldiers last week, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani troops, could threaten recent overtures aimed at resuming peace talks between the nuclear-armed rivals. The dialogue was interrupted after earlier fighting between Indian and Pakistani soldiers on the Kashmir border in January.

A Pakistani military official had accused Indian troops of shelling the Battal sector of Pakistan-held Kashmir on Tuesday, killing one civilian and seriously wounding another. India denied the charge, saying Pakistani troops initiated the firing.

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