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Saturday, 28 September, 2002, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Four dead in Kashmir attack
Indian army soldier speaks to a group of locals
Security has been tight throughout the elections
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir say four people have been killed after militants made an attempt on the life of an election candidate.

Nationalist Congress Party candidate Khalida Mushtaq was been seriously injured in the attack, which came days before a third round of voting for a new state assembly.

The incident happened when militants triggered a landmine as her motorcade passed through a village in the Kulgam area.

The Al-Arifeen militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack in which three civilians including the candidate's father and a police guard were killed.

Killings

Militants have so far killed two candidates, including the state's law minister.
Army personnel on a border hillside
Army patrols prepare for possible trouble

Ms Mushtaq is standing in Tuesday's elections in the Devsar area of Anantnag district.

She is the second woman so far to have been targeted during the election and the state's tourism minister, Sakina Itoo, has survived three attacks.

The elections have been marred by violence and a boycott call by separatists.

Turnout

The Indian Election Commission says 42% of voters cast their ballots in last round on 24 September.

Few people voted in the summer capital, Srinagar, where security forces blew up a house ending a siege with separatist militants, leaving one militant dead.

But polling in two other districts, including the winter capital, Jammu, further south, was much brisker despite violence between the security forces and militants that saw six killed.

Thousands of security personnel were deployed after a series of gun battles and explosions in the disputed territory as suspected Islamic militants tried to disrupt the elections.

Poll boycott

The main Kashmiri separatist alliance has called for a protest strike in Srinagar to coincide with the vote.

The Indian security forces have been trying to use the gaps between voting days to flush militant groups out of the areas going to the polls, but they have not been totally successful.

There are hopes that after the election, whatever the result, talks involving all Kashmiri groups might get underway although there is little concrete evidence this will happen.

India says Pakistan is trying to disrupt the polls just as it has backed militancy in the state for more than a decade.

Islamabad denies this, but foreign diplomats in both countries say the two countries could renew peace talks on Kashmir and other issues if only in an effort to lower military hostilities that brought both of them to the brink of war earlier this year.

Pledge

More than 500 people have been killed since the elections were called on 2 August.

India has viewed the level of violence during the elections as a key test of Pakistan's pledge to stop militants crossing into Indian-held Kashmir.

Pakistan, which rejects the poll as a farce, has insisted all incursions have halted except those by rogue elements.

Other violence-hit areas in southern Jammu will vote in the last round on 8 October, and the election concludes two days later with the counting of votes.

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See also:

24 Sep 02 | South Asia
22 Sep 02 | South Asia
21 Sep 02 | South Asia
19 Sep 02 | South Asia
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