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Blast Rocks Candidate's Convoy in Kashmir; 4 Die

September 29, 2002|From Associated Press

SRINAGAR, India — Suspected Islamic militants blew up a vehicle carrying a legislative candidate in India's Jammu and Kashmir state Saturday, killing her father, two supporters and a police escort, an official said.

The explosion hit the convoy of Khaleda Mushtaq, a member of the opposition Nationalist Congress Party, as she campaigned ahead of voting Tuesday in the Anantnag district, about 35 miles southeast of the state's summer capital, Srinagar.

Hundreds of people have been killed since August in Jammu and Kashmir, where Islamic militants fighting Indian rule have threatened to kill candidates and voters. The rebels say the elections are rigged to favor the ruling pro-India National Conference party.

Mushtaq was seriously wounded in the explosion, while her father, two of her supporters and a policeman were killed, police said. Two passersby were wounded.

The blast left a 7-foot crater in the dirt road and hurled Mushtaq's vehicle about 50 feet into a paddy field, police said.

Anantnag is one of four districts that go to the polls in the third round of voting scheduled for Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. The elections, which began this month, will end Oct. 8.

New Delhi hopes that strong voter turnout will solidify its rule in the disputed Kashmir region, which is split between India and Pakistan.

Al-Arifeen, which India says is a front for the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack on Mushtaq's convoy in a call to a local news agency.

The attack came as nearly 1,000 people blocked traffic, threw stones and shouted anti-Indian slogans in Srinagar after an Indian security vehicle allegedly struck and killed Muzzamil Ahmad, a 19-year-old Muslim.

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