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Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Violence as Kashmir campaigning ends
Kashmiri Muslim protesters shout anti-election slogans
Many Kashmiri Muslims oppose the elections
Campaigning has come to a close for the second round of four-stage local elections in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Tight security arrangements have been put in place as the run-up to Tuesday's voting was marked by fresh incidents of violence.

Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah (2nd L) surrounded by commandos
Violence has overshadowed the vote
At least 15 people have been killed in separate incidents of overnight violence.

More than 50,000 paramilitary soldiers as well as state police are to stand guard as voters elect their new representatives on Tuesday.

Polling is due to take place in 28 constituencies spread over the districts of Srinagar, Jammu and Badgham.

The three districts have more than three million registered voters.

Election officials are, however, waiting to see how many of them will turn up for the poll in the face of a boycott call by militant groups.

Separatist rebels have threatened to attack anyone participating in the exercise.

Crucial round

India's independent Election Commission described the first round of voting last week as a success, with a turnout of 47% .

Indian soldier examines scene of attack on Tourism minister
India says voter turn out is good despite militants' threats
But analysts say the second day of polling is more crucial as the districts going to vote have seen renewed violence recently.

In Srinagar, militants seized a police residential complex on Saturday.

Attackers dressed in police uniforms stormed the high security complex.

One policeman and a militant were killed as the security forces re-took control of the complex after hours of gun-battle.

There was also another attempt - the fourth since elections have been announced in the state - on the life of the state's Tourism Minister, Sakina Itoo on Saturday.

Ms Itoo escaped unhurt but a police officer and a civilian were killed in the attack.


Ms Itoo is a candidate for the governing National Conference party from Noorabad where elections will be held on 1 October.

The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee said the violence and the disruptions to the elections were an indication that there had been no change of attitude from Pakistan.

India blames Pakistan for backing cross-border terrorism but Pakistan strongly denies the charge.

Since the elections were announced at the beginning of August, more than 400 people have been killed.

About half of them 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.

the BBC's Jill McGivering in Delhi
"Fits a pattern of a number of previous attacks"
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See also:

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