TEL AVIV (Jun. 27)
An Israeli tourist in northern India was killed and at least three others were wounded Wednesday night in a gun battle with Kashmiri Moslem separatists, who took seven Israelis and a Dutch woman hostage.
On Israeli was reported missing and a search for him was under way.
The wounded were being treated at the military hospital in Srinagar in Kashmir, according to Reuven Merhav, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who described the incident Thursday at a news conference in Jerusalem.
At least one Kashmiri was killed and two or three may have been wounded in a battle with the Israelis they abducted.
Although the Foreign Ministry withheld names pending notification of next of kin, the dead tourist has been identified as Eres Kahane of Ramat Efal, just outside Tel Aviv.
Physicians at the hospital identified the wounded as Elli Mamoun of Haifa, Yair Frisch of Jerusalem and Ya’acov Shemesh of Ramat Hasharon, all of whom underwent surgery for light to moderate injuries. Their doctors said in telephone interviews that they should be able to return home in a few days.
A fourth person listed as wounded was Ayala Berman, but she apparently did not undergo surgery. Other reports said that the captors had freed the Israeli woman and the Dutch woman before the shootout.
The only uninjured Israeli in the group apparently was Haggai Caspi of Ramat Efal.
ISRAELI BACKPACKERS ESCORTED OUT
Kashmiri Police Chief J.N. Saksina provided details of the incident in a telephone interview with Israel Radio. He said the seven Israelis and the Dutch woman were vacationing on a houseboat on Lake Dal, near Srinagar.
At about midnight Wednesday, armed Moslems boarded the boat, overpowered the guard and bound the hands of the seven Israelis and their Dutch companion.
They were taken ashore in a water taxi to a floating hotel, where the women were released. The six Israeli men, all believed to have had military training, freed their hands and rushed their captors.
They grabbed weapons, including three assault rifles and a hand grenade. Both sides suffered casualties in the ensuing battle. The Israelis forced their way into the home of a Moslem clergyman and made him call the police, who came immediately and began to search for their missing companion.
Saksina said 50 to 60 Israeli backpackers and other foreign visitors were being escorted by Kashmiri police out of the area. It is not known whether the hostages were snatched because they are Israelis or whether the Kashmiris were out to seize any foreigners to bargain with the Indian authorities.
Several Moslem separatist groups are reportedly active in Kashmir, seeking an independent Moslem state there or incorporation into Pakistan.