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India Says Rebel Commander Killed in Kashmir Shootout - 2003-08-30


India says two Islamic militants including a top rebel commander have been killed in a gunbattle with security forces. One soldier was also killed and several others wounded in the clash. Meanwhile, Indian police killed two more suspected Islamic militants in New Delhi after a huge quantity of explosives in the capital's main railway station was found.

The gun battle broke out when Indian security forces stormed a house in a crowded neighborhood in Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar. Officials say they raided the house because a Pakistan-based Islamic guerrilla group, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, was using it as a hideout.

Indian security forces say that Gazi Baba, a top rebel commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad, was among the militants who were killed. According to Indian authorities say Gazi Baba is the mastermind behind a deadly attack on the Indian parliament in December, 2001.

New Delhi has blamed Jaish-e-Mohammad, and another group called Lashkar-e-Taiba, for the attack on the Indian parliament and for several other deadly assaults.

While the battle was taking place in Kashmir, Indian police said they discovered more than 20 kilograms of explosives on a platform in the main railway station of the capital, New Delhi.

The explosives were found in a bag during a routine check. The capital city's rail station is used by thousands of passengers every day.

The city has been on high alert since two terrorist bombs killed more than 50 people in Bombay earlier in the week. The Bombay attacks were followed by a surge of attacks by suspected militants in Kashmir.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee warned Friday that meaningful peace talks with Pakistan will not be possible until there is an end to terrorist attacks like these, which India blames on Kashmiri militants.

India charges that Pakistan has trained and funded the militants, a charge Pakistan denies.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed it its entirety by both. Several Muslim militant groups have been waging a separatist insurgency in the Indian-controlled section of Kashmir since 1989.

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