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Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Kashmir minister survives attack
Kashmiri Muslim protesters shout anti-election slogans
Many Kashmiri Muslims oppose the elections
Militants in Indian-administered Kashmir have made an attempt on the life of state tourism minister Sakina Itoo - the third such attack in the last few days.

She escaped unhurt. The attack was the latest in a campaign of violence by militant groups opposed to state elections now underway.

Indian soldier examines scene of attack on Ms Itoo
One soldier died in the attack
Ms Itoo was travelling by car to an election rally south of Srinagar when her convoy was hit by a landmine.

Police say one member of the security forces and a child were killed and three others injured.

Some reports say gunmen lying in wait in the area also opened fire on the vehicles. Ms Itoo was not injured.

In a separate attack, police said at least 10 people were wounded when suspected militants threw a grenade at a rally south of Srinagar.

And on the city's outskirts, one policemen has been killed and seven others injured in exchanges of fire with gunmen who attacked a police residential complex.

Polling to chose a new state assembly for the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir started on 16 September and is being carried out in four phases.

Boycott

The attack was the latest in a series of recent attempts to assassinate the tourism minister.

Election Dates

Phase 1: 16 Sept
Phase 2: 24 Sept
Phase 3: 1 Oct
Phase 4: 8 Oct
Results due: 12 Oct
She is a well-known member of the state's ruling party, the National Conference.

Members of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group have said they carried out the attack. They claim four policemen died.

Indian Kashmir is in the process of electing a new state assembly.

A second phase of polling is due on Tuesday. The first phase last week attracted a reasonable turnout.

This despite the fact militant groups opposed to Indian rule are trying to enforce an election boycott.

Credibility

The elections have been overshadowed by violence.

Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah (2nd L) surrounded by commandos after rally
Violence has overshadowed the vote
Since they were announced at the beginning of August, more than 400 people have been killed.

About half of these were militants shot by the security forces. Candidates and party workers have also died.

India has promised these elections will be free and fair.

Previous polls have been marred by allegations of vote-rigging and coercion by the security forces, as well as militant violence.

Now India wants to enhance its credibility and show it can deliver a genuine democratic process.

Final results are expected on 11 October.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
the BBC's Jill McGivering in Delhi
"Fits a pattern of a number of previous attacks"
Click here fror background reports and analysis

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See also:

15 Sep 02 | South Asia
20 Sep 02 | South Asia
19 Sep 02 | South Asia
14 Sep 02 | South Asia
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