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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 12:16 GMT
Two killed in Kashmir mosque siege
Indian soldiers marching
The army has faced several mosque sieges recently
Indian troops have killed two militants in a mosque in Kashmir after a 12-hour siege, according to police.

The militants barricaded themselves inside the mosque in Pattan in Baramullah district, 54 km north of Srinagar after security forces cordoned off the area.

They took refuge there late on Monday, and a police official said an exchange of fire took place early the following morning.

Senior officials, who do not want to be identified, say the troops then used gas to kill the militants to spare the mosque any damage.

However, one report said the bodies of the slain militants had bullet marks.

The army is not known to have suffered any casualties.

Militant group

The pro-Pakistan militant group, Jamiat-ul-Mujahedin, said the two men were their members.

A spokesman for the group said they lost radio contact with the men on Tuesday morning

Mosque sieges present a problem for Indian security forces as a straightforward assault could inflame passions in the Muslim-majority state.

This is the fourth incident of its kind in the Kashmir Valley in the past two and a half months

In most cases, the mosques have suffered some damage as a result.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and aiding the militants, a charge Islamabad denies.

Pakistan says it only offers diplomatic and political support.

The two nuclear-armed nations have had their armies on alert since last December after a militant attack on the Indian parliament in Delhi.

See also:

18 Mar 02 | South Asia
Vajpayee says Kashmir 'improved'
09 Feb 02 | South Asia
Two dead in Kashmir mosque siege
09 Jan 02 | South Asia
One dead in Kashmir mosque siege
29 Oct 01 | South Asia
Kashmir mosque siege ends
31 May 01 | South Asia
Kashmiri militants escape siege
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