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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 14:53 GMT
Kashmir siege ends with four dead
Indian soldier stands guard outside one of the houses near the Srinagar camp
The gun battle erupted in a high security zone
A three-day long siege in Indian-administered Kashmir has ended, leaving at least four people dead, police officials say.

Police chief Gopal Sharma declared the siege over on Thursday, after Indian troops destroyed a building in which militants were thought to have hidden.

One gunman has been confirmed dead, and police have sealed the site to search for any surviving accomplices.

Suspected rebels stormed a police base on Tuesday, sparking the siege.

Civilian killed

The base was within the army-run cantonment area - one of the most heavily-defended zones in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.

The attackers, whose exact number or identity is not known, moved to other buildings in the vicinity as their initial cover came under fire.

Those killed during the operation to flush out the militants include two security personnel, one civilian and one militant.

A policeman was killed and two others were injured on the first day of the siege, while an Indian army major died after heavy firing on Wednesday and Thursday morning.

By late Wednesday, the gunmen had taken cover in a telephone exchange building on the complex.

The body of a civilian employee of the exchange was discovered on Thursday, along with that of a slain militant, according to the police.

'Healing touch'

A militant group called al-Mansureen had telephoned a newspaper to say it was responsible for the attack.

Earlier this week, Indian authorities transferred control of counter-insurgency operations in parts of Srinagar from the paramilitary Border Security Force to the police.

The attack came as India announced a 16% drop in militant violence since the election of a new state government in Kashmir a year ago.

Mufti Mohammed Sayeed took office as chief minister, promising to bring "a healing touch" to the troubled state and crack down on abuses by militants and security forces.

At least 40,000 people have died since rebels began their insurgency.

India accuses neighbouring Pakistan of sponsoring the violence, a charge Pakistan denies.

The two countries each occupy a part of the old Himalayan kingdom of Kashmir, and have fought two of their three wars since independence over it.


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