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Saturday, 14 September, 2002, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Probe into Kashmir poll killing
Soldier at poll rally
There are fears the vote could be marred by violence
The authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have ordered an inquiry into the killing of a state minister during campaigning for controversial elections.

Soldier frisking civilian
The authorities say security will be adequate
Mushtaq Ahmed Lone was shot dead on Wednesday while on his way to a rally - the first time a state minister has been killed during an election campaign in Kashmir.

A spokesman for the Jammu and Kashmir state government said the investigation would look at whether there had been any failings by the security forces.

Violence has risen sharply in Kashmir as the poll approaches. Voting starts on 16 September and is being held in phases across the territory.

Militant groups fighting Indian rule have warned people not to take part, and Kashmir's separatist politicians have said they will boycott the vote.

Fear of violence

Mr Lone, a candidate for the ruling National Conference party, was killed in Kupwara district, near the Line of Control dividing Indian and Pakistani forces.

His funeral on Thursday in the remote village of Sogam was overshadowed by a gunfight between militants and security forces, which left mourners running for cover.

The Indian authorities say they will provide security to ensure the polls go ahead without disruption.

The Director-General of Police, AK Suri, told journalists in Srinagar that an additional 500 companies of security personnel were being provided, although he denied allegations that Indian soldiers would force people to vote.

However, a spate of attacks on politicians and party workers in the past couple of weeks has led to fears that people may stay away from the polls.

Campaigning ended on Saturday in the 23 constituencies which go to the polls next Monday.

More than 150 candidates are standing in this first phase.

The last phase of voting will be on 10 October.

The Indian authorities accuse Pakistan of being behind the violence, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism.

Pakistan has said the elections are rigged, and will not help towards a solution in the territory, which is claimed by both countries.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jill McGivering
"It's hard to have a credible democracy in such a climate of violence"
Click here fror background reports and analysis

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13 Sep 02 | South Asia
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