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Monday, 2 September, 2002, 21:13 GMT 22:13 UK
Kashmir minister escapes assassins
Participants in a political rally in Indian administered Kashmir
An election rally: Most separatists want to boycott it
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir say the state's minister for industry, Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, has escaped an attempt on his life by militants.

They say Mr Kamal was on his way to Sheikhpora, north of Srinagar, when suspected militants fired at his motorcade.


We have stressed that there has to be a permanent and visible end to infiltration across the Line of Control

Nirupama Rao, Indian foreign ministry spokeswoman

A civilian who was with the minister was injured in the attack at Khaipora, which happened as fears mount of more violence ahead of elections later this month.

The attack on Mr Kamal came shortly after a senior activist of the state's governing National Conference party was abducted and killed near the northern town of Bandipora.

The decapitated body of Haji Ghulam Hassan Bhat was found in a field near his village after his abduction on Sunday night.

Militants also killed another activist of the party at Butengoo in the southern district of Anantnag and an attempt was made to kill another party official in Sopore.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.

Pushing for talks

A committee set up by the Pakistani Government to push for talks on Kashmir has announced that it hopes to send a respected politician to India shortly to help create a mood for talks.

Ajmal Khattak, head of the National Awami Party, has been chosen for the role, the Kashmir Committee said.

However, an Indian foreign ministry spokeswoman said that India did not think it was the right time to resume talks with Pakistan over the disputed territory.

Sajjid Gani Lone's father
Sajjad Lone's father Abdul was killed in May

"We have stressed that there has to be a permanent and visible end to infiltration across the Line of Control and dismantlement of the infrastructure of terrorism which is closely linked with such infiltration before we can consider resumption of dialogue," Nirupama Rao said.

Ms Rao also said that Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would no meet during their visit to the United States this month.

Poll boycott

The first phase of assembly elections, due to start on 16 September, has raised fears of violence in the region.

The main Kashmiri separatist alliance in Indian-administered Kashmir, the All Party Hurriyat Conference, has pledged to boycott the elections.

But it decided not to expel a member party, the People's Conference, after that group said it would also stay away from the polls - despite reports that some members planned to stand with unspoken party support.

The chairman of the People's Conference, Sajjad Gani Lone, assured the alliance that his party supported its stand against the vote.

Mr Lone's father, Abdul Gani Lone, a moderate separatist leader, was killed in an attack earlier this year.

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