Kashmir Battle Leaves Five Dead
15 November 2005
Srinagar: A gun battle between security forces and militants in Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir has ended after two days. Officials say a militant was killed and another arrested during an assault on two hotel buildings where they were holed up. Five people died, including two soldiers and two civilians. Officials say at least 70 people have been rescued from the hotel buildings and shops in the area. Seventeen people were injured in the fighting. Assault A senior police official identified the militant arrested as Ejaj Ahmed Bhat, alias Abu Sumana, and said he infiltrated into Indian-administered Kashmir from Pakistan-administered Kashmir after the recent earthquake. The state deputy inspector general of police, HK Lohia, said Bhat belonged to the Lashkar-e-Toiba militant group. However, a militant group, Al Mansurin, claimed responsibility on Monday. A man who identified himself as a spokesperson for the group told the BBC that four members of his organisation had been involved. Police said the final assault was delayed to avoid civilian casualties and damage to property. Officials say the gun battle began after the militants lobbed a grenade at a paramilitary bunker. Among those injured on Monday was a Japanese journalist. Grenade attack Meanwhile, three civilians have died in a grenade attack in Tangarg, about 40km (25 miles) from Srinagar, police say. At least 50 others were injured when suspected militants threw a grenade at a rally which former state minister Ghulam Hassan Mir had just finished addressing. He was slightly hurt. A number of militant groups have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989 in an insurgency that has claimed more than 60,000 lives. India believes the militants infiltrate from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a charge Pakistan denies. Relations between India and Pakistan have improved in the past two years but there have been no breakthroughs in resolving their deep differences over Kashmir. Last month, the two countries signed a landmark deal to open the Line of Control, the de facto border dividing the disputed region, in order to help victims of the 8 October earthquake.