Purported al-Qaida statement in Kashmir declares holy war on India

A group claiming to represent the al-Qaida terror network declared a holy war on India because of its control over part of Kashmir, Indian officials said Saturday, adding that they were taking the threat seriously.

A statement and a video were sent Friday to the Kashmiri news agency, Current News Service, in Srinagar, the main city in India's Jammu-Kashmir state.

In the video, a masked man standing next to an automatic weapon read the warning.

"We declare righteous holy war against India on behalf of God the great in which Jammu and Kashmir will be the launch pad for holy war in India," said the statement, signed by Abu Abdul Rehman al-Ansari, purportedly the chief of al-Qaida Fil Hind, or al-Qaida in India.

The statement was the first from the group since it announced its establishment last July, but police were "considering it with seriousness," said the state's director general of police, Gopal Sharma.

"But there is no need to panic," he said.

There have been allegations that some Islamic militants fighting to wrest Muslim-majority Kashmir from predominantly Hindu India have ties to al-Qaida, but these links have not been proven.

The five-page statement in the Urdu language mentioned insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, the Palestinian territories and Algeria, and described them as a global Islamic movement "aimed at wiping out borders and leading to the establishment of an Islamic caliphate," a land ruled by the successors of Prophet Mohammed.

Muslims account for 130 million of India's 1.1 billion people, and their relations with the country's Hindu majority have been largely peaceful since the bloody partition of the subcontinent at its independence from Britain in 1947.

But there have been sporadic bouts of religious violence, and India's part of Kashmir - a Himalayan land divided between India and Pakistan in a 1948 war - has faced an Islamic separatist insurgency since 1989.

More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict.

India has also blamed Kashmiri militants for a series of bombings across India in recent years.

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