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Indian Police Kill 5 Wanted Militants in Bangalore - 2002-09-29

In India, police say they shot dead five suspected Muslim militants, who were wanted in connection with bomb blasts over the last several years in the south of the country.

Police say the suspected militants were killed in a three-hour gun battle that followed a raid on their hideout in the southern city of Bangalore early Sunday. A 23-year-old woman was among the suspects who died in the shootout. Several policemen were injured.

One of the suspects, Imam Ali, had been arrested in 1995 on charges of involvement in a bomb attack on the office of a Hindu nationalist group (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) nearly a decade ago. But he had escaped from police custody earlier this year, while being taken to court.

Imam Ali and his associates were also suspected of involvement in several armed robberies. Some reports have also linked them to a a series of bomb blasts that rocked the southern Indian city of Coimbatore four years ago. At least 70 people were killed and scores injured in those explosions.

Bangalore's deputy inspector general of police, Ashutosh Shukla , told reporters that Imam Ali was planning to assassinate top national leaders, including Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani. He did not offer any evidence to back the claim, but said it was confirmed by intelligence reports.

"Imam Ali was trained by Hizbul Mujahideen in Jammu and Kashmir during 1991," said Mr. Shukla, referring to a pro-Pakistani Islamic militant group. "He has also visited Bangladesh for training."

Police from two southern states, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, conducted the operation. They are calling it a major victory against terror.