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Lashkar rejects 'confession' in Mumbai probe

Two soldiers, six militants killed in Indian Kashmir
Two soldiers and six Muslim militants have been killed in two shootouts in Indian Kashmir, the first violence since state elections in the Muslim-majority region, the army said Friday. The first gunbattle erupted late Thursday in the southern district of Poonch after Indian troops, acting on a tip-off, carried out a search operation of a densely forested area. "As we closed in, the militants opened fire, killing two of our soldiers," an army officer told AFP, asking not to be named. He said one militant was killed in the return of fire. Three more were killed when soldiers launched a fresh offensive early Friday, the officer said. Indian troops shot dead two more militants during a separate gunbattle in northern Baramulla district, police said. The violence was the first since the completion of seven-stage state elections on December 24. Despite a boycott call by separatists and militants more than 60 percent of voters took part. The regional pro-India National Conference and India's ruling Congress party decided to form the government after polls produced a fractured legislature.
by Staff Writers
Srinagar (AFP) Jan 2, 2009
The Pakistan-based militant outfit blamed for the Mumbai attacks rejected Friday a report that one of its leaders had acknowledged the group's involvement.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed officials, reported Wednesday that Pakistani authorities had obtained a confession from a senior member of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The suspect, Zarar Shah, allegedly told investigators he had played a key role in the planning of the November attacks that left 172 dead.

"Lashkar-e-Taiba rejects the Wall Street Journal report," its spokesman Abdullah Ghaznavi said in an email statement.

"India has failed to furnish any evidence of Lashkar-e-Taiba's involvement in the Mumbai attacks and America is now trying to help it out," he said.

No evidence could be found "on the scene of the crime, and now there is an effort to manufacture evidence thousands of miles away," he added.

Islamabad has also rejected the report.

On Thursday, Pakistani interior ministry spokesman Shahidullah Baig told AFP: "We have no such information. We don't accept that report."

Pakistani police arrested Shah and another key Lashkar operative, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, as part of a series of raids against the Islamic charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely seen as the group's political wing.

Their arrests came after the United Nations Security Council classified Jamaat-ud-Dawa as a terrorist organisation, obliging UN member states to freeze its assets.

"America was putting pressure on Pakistan's government to manufacture the evidence itself, and then also take action on the basis of this evidence' too, in order to please India," Ghaznavi said.

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Three dead in Pakistan missile strike: official
Peshawar, Pakistan (AFP) Jan 2, 2009
A suspected US missile strike Friday killed at least three foreign militants in the northwest Pakistan stronghold of a local Taliban commander, a senior security official said.

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