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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 16:46 GMT
Militant raid mars Indian festival
An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard during Diwali in Srinagar
Diwali celebrations have taken place amid tight security
Indian authorities say the army have killed two militants and foiled a suicide attack on an army camp near the northern town of Sopore in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Members of the Rajasthani Police search vehicles at the entrance to one of Delhi's markets.
Police continued to search vehicles throughout the day
The authorities say the two militants came to the camp's main gate early in the morning and attempted to storm it but the alert troops shot them dead.

The attack came as tens of thousands of policemen have been deployed in the Indian capital Delhi, a day after a shoot-out in a shopping mall in which two other suspected militant were killed.

Home Minister LK Advani has alleged that the two dead militants were from Pakistan.

Shoot-out

A spokesman for Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen militant group has confirmed a district commander of their outfit, Maulana Abdul Hadi, was killed along with two fellow militants in a shoot-out with the Indian troops near the Line of Control in Kupwara.


They wanted to go to the shopping area from the underground parking lot and massacre people shopping for Diwali

LK Advani

He says six Indian soldiers were killed or wounded but there has been no word from the Indian authorities on the incident.

India is celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, on Monday and police say the militants had planned a major attack just before the festival.

Special armed police and elite commandos are patrolling the streets of Delhi during the public holiday.

Extra security is in place around markets and shopping malls and Hindu temples.

Late night celebrations

Diwali is one of the country's biggest festivals and celebrations usually take place in the evening and go on late into the night.

It is marked by the lighting of lamps and illuminations and the setting off of firecrackers.

On Sunday evening, two militants were intercepted by police in the basement of the Ansal Plaza shopping centre, sparking the shoot-out.

Officers said they were acting on intelligence that a terrorist attack was being planned to coincide with Diwali.

"They wanted to go to the shopping area from the underground parking lot and massacre people shopping for Diwali," Mr Advani said.

Blamed

The men who were shot dead in Delhi are believed to be members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba group, which was blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament late last year.

Weapons including an automatic rifle were recovered, along with a map of Delhi, police said.

Car involved in Delhi attack
People were out holiday shopping in Delhi
Mr Advani told reporters that the two men had been staying in an area close to where they were shot dead.

"Based on initial information, it seems both the militants were from our neighbouring country," he told journalists.

Lashkar-e-Toiba is an armed separatist group operating in Indian-administered Kashmir, but it has said it wants Islamic rule for the whole of India.

India blamed Pakistan for backing the militants and the row heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed powers who have sent one million troops to face each other along their border.

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03 Nov 02 | South Asia
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