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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 April, 2003, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Kashmir massacre 'mastermind' held
Bodies of the victims are laid out
Bodies of the victims are laid out

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have arrested a militant who they say planned a recent massacre of Hindu villagers.

Police named the man as Mustafa and said he had two aliases, Arbaz Khan and Abdullah Umar.

He is said to belong to the Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Twenty-four Kashmiri Hindus were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Nadimarg village in last month's killing.

Kashmir director general of police, AK Suri, described the arrest as a major breakthrough.

"He is involved in the Nadimarg massacre of Hindus. He has operated and planned it," Mr Suri told a news conference in Srinagar.

The suspect was presented to journalists. But they were not allowed to question him.

The police say he is a resident of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

Hindus leave

Mr Suri also alleged that the Lashkar-e-Toiba was planning to strike against Hindu nationalist activists and attack Hindu temples across India in retaliation against the killing of Muslims in religious riots in the western state of Gujarat last year.

More than 1,000 people, mainly Muslim, were killed in those riots. They began after the burning of a train carrying Hindu activists, leaving nearly 60 of them dead.

Independent accounts of the riots have placed the toll at closer to 2,000.

On Wednesday, 14 of the 28 Hindu villagers left in Nadimarg after the massacre left the village.

Earlier this week the police had prevented villagers from leaving.

The authorities have tried to persuade the villagers to stay, saying if they left it would be playing into the hands of the attackers.

The security forces had put a barbed-wire fence around the village to protect it from any more attacks.

But when the BBC's Altaf Hussain visited Nadimarg, he said the move had not restored a sense of security.


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