The Indian army says it has killed three militants in the Doda district of Indian-administered Kashmir on Friday, including a top commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba, the group linked to the Mumbai terror attack.
One solider was killed in what police officials say was a gun battle between militants and troops that took place in the Gundha area of the Doda district in Jammu province.
Officials have identified one of the killed militants as Iqbal Malik -- who is believed to be a senior commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba, a group that has been fighting against Indian rule in divided Kashmir. "Based on specific intelligence input, yesterday around evening, afternoon and evening, the area was cordoned off near Gundha, and in the ensuing firefight, security forces eliminated three militants this morning around 9.30. Three AK rifles, 6 AK grenades, 12 rounds of AK ammunitions and some other items have been recovered from the site," said S.N. Acharya, an army spokesman in Jammu.
Although Lashkar-e-Toiba's activities have mostly been limited to attacking Indian military installations in Kashmir, India blames the group for involvement in the recent terror attack in Mumbai.
The group has denied the charges, but acting on international pressure, Pakistan has cracked down on Lashkar and Jammat-ud-Dawah, designated as a front for Lashkar.
Authorities deployed thousands of troops in the Kashmiri summer capital Srinagar on Friday to prevent protests called by Muslim separatists ahead of the final phase of state elections.
Separatist groups had urged a total boycott of the polls, saying they will strengthen India's hold over the region.
But the first six rounds of voting have seen more than 50 percent turnout in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.
The restrictions prevented Friday prayers in Kashmir's biggest mosque for the seventh week in a row.
Kashmir's chief cleric, Mirwaiz Umar, says authorities are infringing on religious rights of people. "Basic human rights are being are being violated, not only politically but also the basic right of an individual to pray collectively is being denied for the last so many weeks. Also we believe that there is tremendous amount of military interference in day to day lives of the people."
The final round is elections on December 24 will be in Srinagar -the most sensitive district, along with Jammu and Samba districts.