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Militants Kill 3 in Kashmir, Police Say

September 19, 2004|From Associated Press

JAMMU, India — Suspected Islamic insurgents barged into the homes of three civilians, beheaded one and fatally shot the other two, as Indian government forces killed five suspected rebels in a shootout in Jammu and Kashmir state Saturday, a top police officer said.

The unidentified assailants broke into a house in Poonch district, pulled the homeowner from his bed and beheaded him, said S.M. Sahai, a police inspector-general.

Separately, attackers broke into a house in nearby Rajouri district, dragged the two occupants outside and shot them dead, Sahai said. The area is about 90 miles northwest of Jammu, the winter capital of India's Jammu and Kashmir state.

In both incidents, the attackers accused their victims of being police informers, Sahai said.

Also in Poonch on Saturday, soldiers and police acting on a tip raided a suspected rebel hide-out, killing five people in a gunfight, Sahai said. He said those killed belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a rebel group fighting for the merger of the Indian-held portion of Kashmir with Pakistan. The police claim could not be independently confirmed.

At least a dozen Islamic and Kashmiri separatist groups have been fighting Indian security forces since 1989, seeking independence for the Himalayan region or its merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan.

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