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Two human rights groups are accusing India's security forces of targeting doctors and hospitals and torturing prisoners as part of a campaign to crush the Muslim secessionist revolt in Kashmir.

In a report released yesterday, the United States-based groups, Asia Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, said Indian troops have assaulted physicians, raided hospitals, and obstructed the treatment of the wounded.

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The report also accused Kashmiri militants of assassinating Muslims who opposed their cause. Most Hindus have been driven out of Kashmir, it said.

The Indian government, in a 15-page response added to the report, called the American investigators "gullible," denied the charges, and said the guerrillas often took refuge in hospitals.

Kashmir, a Muslim-dominated state, has been disputed by India and Pakistan since 1947. In 1990, discontent with Indian rule erupted into an armed campaign for independence or union with Muslim Pakistan. In August, India stepped up pressure on the militants in an unsuccessful effort to break the insurrection.

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