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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 October, 2003, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Kashmir 'militants' killed after siege
Attack in Srinagar
The earlier raid left two dead and several injured
Two suspected Islamic militants have been shot dead in Indian-administered Kashmir after a raid on the home of the chief minister, police say.

Indian security forces killed them both after storming a Srinagar shopping complex where they were holed up.

The centre had been surrounded by police after Friday's attack.

Ten people trapped inside the four-storey Al Jan complex were rescued.

The BBC's Altaf Hussein in Srinagar says it is the first time the Indian authorities have carried out such an operation without blowing up the occupied building.

Our target was chief minister's residence, but the two gunmen stormed the wrong building
Abu Shakir, militants' spokesman

The abortive attack on the home of chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed is the most serious incident since an upsurge in separatist violence in Kashmir over the past two months.

Two soldiers were killed and a number of civilians injured - including two press photographers - when militants threw grenades near Mr Sayeed's house and soldiers and security guards fired back.

The chief minister, who heads the elected state government, was not at home during the attack.

However, his wife, daughter Mehbooba Mufti, the president of the ruling People's Democratic Party, and her two daughters were at the residence.

Police said the house was heavily defended and was not itself attacked.

Advani's challenge

Three different militant groups - Al Nasirin, Farzandan-e-Milat and Al Mansurian - said they carried out the raid.

A spokesman for Al Mansurian, Abu Shakir, told a local news agency: "Our target was [the] chief minister's residence, but the two gunmen who launched the attack stormed the wrong building."

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
Chief minister Sayeed has just completed a year in office

However, Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani accused the well-known Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Toiba, of being responsible.

Referring to Pakistan, he added: "The attack shows that our neighbour's attitude hasn't changed yet."

Islamabad responded by denying any involvement in the attack.

"There is no truth in Advani's allegations. We have nothing to do with the violence in Kashmir," said Pakistan's information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

Kashmir's chief minister recently completed a year in office, after being elected in landmark state elections said to be the fairest in the history of the disputed territory.

Kashmir has been at the heart of differences between Indian and Pakistan and has led to two wars between the two nuclear neighbours.

It was the focus of a bitter exchange between the leaders of the two countries at the UN General Assembly in September.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and funding the militants who cross in from Pakistani-administered Kashmir, a charge Islamabad consistently denies.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Altaf Hussain
"There has been an exchange of fire"



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