The Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant group blamed by India for last November's assault on Mumbai, has threatened more violence in Kashmir after a five-day gunbattle that killed 25 people, including eight Indian troops.

A spokesman for the group, speaking from an undisclosed location, said: "India should understand the freedom struggle in Kashmir was not over, it is active with full force."

The threat by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, if followed through, would be a new headache for the United States, which would like to see an improvement in relations between India and Pakistan as it overhauls its approach to both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Washington has been careful to avoid any suggestion that it would intervene overtly in the Kashmir dispute, in what has been seen as an acknowledgement of Indian sensitivities about outside interference.  But Indian newspapers have reported that the United States has nonetheless been quietly leaning on India to reduce tensions on Pakistan's eastern border so that its army can concentrate on fighting militants on its western border with Afghanistan.

And former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, leading a review of strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan expected to be released this week, has suggested in the past that a resolution of the Kashmir dispute would help ease tensions across the region.