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July 14, 1999
Lashkar-e-Toiba chief vows to continue 'war' in Kashmir
A powerful Islamic militant group has pledged to spread its "armed struggle" further into Kashmir, rejecting a call by Pakistan's government to retreat from strategic heights in the Kargil region.
"This was round one which we have won," Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of the Markaz-ud-Dawawal Irshad organisation, whose militant wing, Lashkar-e-Toiba is among the five main guerrilla groups battling Indian troops in Kashmir, said yesterday.
"Now round two of jihad (holy war) has started," Saeed, flanked by armed guards, told a rally of several thousand supporters in the main Aabpara intersection of Islamabad.
Lashkar-e-Toiba refuses to withdraw from the Kargil-Drass sectors of Kashmir although a 15-group alliance, of which it is a key member, announced yesterday that it would "change positions" in the area.
"Nawaz Sharief, you committed a big crime, a big cruelty... You should seek forgiveness from Allah," Saeed said, referring to the Pakistani prime minister.
He said the guerrilla war would not be affected by the withdrawal appeal and the new campaign had already started with an attack on a paramilitary camp in Bandipore, 57 km north of Srinagar.
"Now the jihad will spread all across Kashmir, it will spread to every peak, every forest and every path... The liberation of Kashmir is close now. No one can stop that," he said.
The 15-group United Jihad Council Alliance said in a statement after an emergency meeting in Islamabad yesterday that a "withdrawal from Kargil (area) as a consequence of any international agreement or appeal is out of the question".
But it said: "For the time being, the mujahideen have formulated a new strategy to carry out their operations by changing their positions on the present Kargil front."
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