JAMMU, India (AP) _ Suspected Islamic rebels raided a village Saturday in Indian-controlled Kashmir and shot to death 12 Muslims while they slept, police said, a day before talks between India and Pakistan on easing tensions in the Himalayan region.
A woman and a 3-year-old were among the dead in the village of Surankot, police said, but most of those killed were members of a military-trained local village security force often targeted for helping government forces.
Elsewhere, some 50 men and women were trapped inside a mosque for two hours during a gunfight between security forces and suspected Islamic militants in Litter village, 40 miles south of Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state.
They were freed after the militants shifted to an adjoining building, a police official said on condition of anonymity. The gunbattle continued.
The violence came on the eve of talks between India and Pakistan in New Delhi on their dispute over Kashmir, the subject of two of three wars between the two nuclear-armed rivals since they gained independence in 1947.
No one claimed responsibility for the killings in Surankot, 190 miles north of Jammu, the state's winter capital.
Eight other people were wounded, four critically, in the attack, said P.L. Gupta, a police inspector-general.
A dozen rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. More than 65,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict.
The two days of talks between foreign secretaries are the most recent peace initiatives launched with a summit in January. A week ago, the neighbors agreed to create a new nuclear hot line to reduce the risk of war and affirmed their commitment to a nuclear test ban.
But the two countries haven't held substantive talks on the Kashmir dispute since 1998, and this weekend's meeting was seen as a way to restart the negotiations _ without high expectations for an immediate breakthrough.
``We certainly will approach these talks with great sincerity and seriousness,'' Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar told reporters upon his arrival in the Indian capital.
India accuses Pakistan of collaborating with the rebels, but Pakistan denies the allegation. Both claim the territory in its entirety.