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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 May 2006, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Gunmen open fire on Kashmir rally
Police carry an injured man away - 21/5/06
About four thousand people had attended the rally
At least eight people have been killed after suspected Islamic militants attacked a Congress party rally in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Twenty five others were injured in the attack in Srinagar. Witnesses said it began when two men, dressed as police, began firing at the rostrum.

The BBC's Altaf Hussain, who was at the scene, said police had returned fire.

Thousands of people were attending the rally, in honour of slain Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Witnesses reported a sudden burst of gunfire, which made everyone hit the ground.

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Our correspondent says the dead include the two militants, two policemen and four civilians.

"I saw some policemen bleeding and hundreds of Congress party workers were lying down on the ground," a Reuters photographer said.

The inspector general of police is among the injured, our correspondent says.

One witness, Congress Party worker Mohammed Sayeed, told the Associated Press news agency that he had seen "more than a dozen people hit by bullets".

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had been scheduled to address the memorial marking the anniversary of former prime minister Gandhi's death, was not present when the attack began.

Gandhi was assassinated by a suspected Tamil rebel suicide bomber on 21 May 1991, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Talks threat

Two militant groups, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Al-Nasireen, have claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack.

It came after Islamic militants vowed to disrupt a forthcoming peace conference on Kashmir, scheduled to take place in Srinagar on Wednesday.

The round table talks, which will be the second such meeting since February, were convened by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The mountainous region has been a flashpoint between the two nuclear powers India and Pakistan for more than 50 years.

More than 60,000 people have been killed since an armed separatist insurgency began in Kashmir in 1989.




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