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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 14:37 GMT
Kashmiri Hindus want to leave
Bodies of the victims are laid out
Bodies of the victims are laid out
Hindus in Indian-administered Kashmir say they want to move out after the massacre of 24 Hindu villagers on Monday.

Relatives of the victims made the demand to Indian Deputy Premier LK Advani as he visited the site of the killings.

It is still not clear who was behind the massacre which took place in the tiny village of Nadimarg south of the state capital, Srinagar.

It is the worst such attack since a new government was elected in Indian-administered Kashmir last September.

'Save us'

The victims' relatives surrounded and heckled the deputy prime minister when he arrived at Nadimarg.

"We want to leave, save us," they shouted.

Mr Advani said he would consider the request but added that it could play into the hands of those who carried out the attack.

"If you feel insecure we will take you to a safer place but that is what the enemy wants.

Mr Advani said 10,000 Kashmiri Hindus, known as Pandits, were still left in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.

About 100,000 Pandits fled their homes 13 years ago, following the outbreak of violence.

In Delhi, Prime Minster Atal Behari Vajpayee said the government would soon announce rehabilitation plans and financial compensation for Hindus displaced by the violence, according to group of Pandits who held talks with him.

'Blatant act'

Earlier Mr Advani said it was up to Pakistan to make sure there is no repetition of Monday's massacre.

I closed my eyes and then I heard the shots
Deepak Kumar
Villager

Mr Advani did not directly blame Pakistan for the killings but said: "Violence in Jammu and Kashmir is continuing because of our neighbour."

"Things will improve once [Pakistan] stops training and sending militants from across the border into the state," he said.

Pakistan has condemned the attack, calling it a "blatant act of terrorism".

Islamabad has always rejected Delhi's charge that it arms and trains militants operating in Indian-controlled territory.

Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi, whose Congress party is part of the governing coalition in the state, also visited the area.

Parts of Indian-administered Kashmir observed a general strike on Tuesday in protest against the killings.

Schools and businesses were shut in many parts of the Jammu region.

Late night raid

Gunmen dressed in army uniforms entered Nadimarg village near Shopian - about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of the summer capital Srinagar late on Sunday night.

They told police they were Indian army soldiers and wanted to carry out a search operation.

They then snatched the policemen's weapons and shot their victims.

The victims comprised 11 men, 11 women and two children.

Correspondents say the killings will be a major setback for Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, who has appealed to Kashmiri Hindus to return to the disputed state.

Mr Sayeed's election last year was seen as a landmark after he unseated the party that had ruled Kashmir since Indian independence.

But the state has witnessed a sharp rise in violence in the past few weeks after months of relative peace.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the violence in Indian-administered Kashmir since 1989.





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