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Release of Kashmiri Ex-Militant Seen as Gesture of Reconciliation

A senior separatist political leader in Indian-administered Kashmir is reported to have been released from detention. The release could ease tensions in Kashmir, just as a new, reformist government is taking power.

Yassin Malik, a former guerrilla leader who heads the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, was arrested in March on charges of smuggling $100,000 to finance separatist political activities in India's Jammu and Kashmir State.

Mr. Malik is a leading member of the All Parties Huriyiat Conference, a group of more than 20 separatist political parties.

Analysts say Mr. Malik's release could signal a softening of India's stance on Kashmir, following state assembly elections in September and October that saw the longtime ruling party in the state, the National Conference, ousted from power.

International observers say the elections were free and fair. The 46 percent voter turnout was higher than expected.

A new coalition government, led by longtime opposition leader Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, has pledged to try and offer a healing touch to the region, where at least 35,000 people have died in a 13 year separatist insurgency.