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7 Kashmiri Militant Suspects Held

October 06, 2002|From Reuters

SRINAGAR, India — Indian security forces said Saturday that they had arrested seven top members of a Kashmiri rebel group involved in a series of attacks during the state assembly election.

The militants of the Hezb-ul-Moujahedeen group, which is fighting for Kashmir's merger with Pakistan, were arrested Friday in separate raids by the Border Security Force.

"We achieved a major breakthrough by apprehending the battalion commander of Hezb-ul-Moujahedeen along with six top associates during raids in Srinagar city on Friday," a security force spokesman said.

He said the group was involved in a series of attacks on security forces during elections in India's Jammu and Kashmir state.

A large quantity of weapons and ammunition, including two dozen grenades, was recovered from the militants.

In a separate incident, three paramilitary soldiers were killed when suspected Muslim rebels set off a bomb at a polling station late Friday in a school in Lolab, the spokesman said.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack in Lolab in northern Kashmir, which will vote Tuesday.

Polls were postponed in Lolab after separatist militants, who have vowed to sabotage the vote, assassinated a state law minister and a candidate last month.

India accuses the Pakistani army of helping militants cross into the Indian-held portion of Kashmir to join a separatist revolt and says infiltration has increased during the polls. Pakistan, which controls part of Kashmir, denies the charge.

Many militant groups--including Hezb-ul-Moujahedeen, which has vowed to sabotage the balloting--have launched a wave of anti-election violence in the Kashmir region since the polls were announced Aug. 2.

According to police reports, more than 600 people have died since then in Jammu and Kashmir.

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