Four militants killed as held Kashmir votes

17 December 2008
The News International

Anantnag: Indian troops killed four militants in Kashmir on Wednesday and clashed with protesters as the disputed regions Indian zone held the latest leg of multi-stage elections. Troops also defused a bomb in the southern Kashmiri town of Anantnag minutes before voting centres opened on Wednesday morning for the day-long polls, a police official said. It was planted by militants on the edge of a road, an officer said. In the neighbouring district of Shopian, security forces shot dead two top commanders of militant group Hizbul Mujahideen. One of the slain, Rais Ahmed, had escaped from police custody last month while being escorted to a court.In northern Baramulla district, police said, troops shot dead two more militants during a gun battle on Wednesday afternoon. Later in Anantnag, police wielding batons dispersed scores of anti-election prote-sters. Despite the clashes, voters turned out in large numbers. I am voting to elect honest and upright people. We want peace and development, said Nazia Amin, 23, a first-time voter. Wednesdays voting was the sixth and penultimate stage of the always tense election process in Kashmir. Over 60 per cent eligible voters took part in todays polling, senior government official Masood Samoun told reporters in Srinagar. A strict security clampdown was imposed in Srinagar to prevent protests by anti-election separatists.