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Indian Police Kill 3 Islamic Militants in Bombay

Indian police say they have shot dead three Islamic militants in the country's financial capital, Bombay. Authorities are investigating to see if the three were involved in recent deadly bomb attacks in the city. Bombay police chief, Ranjit Sharma, says the three suspected militants were killed in a midday shootout on a busy highway just outside Bombay.

He says the militants opened fire when they were challenged by a police team which was searching for them. Mr. Sharma says the militants were killed in a gunbattle which erupted when police returned the fire.

Officials say the three men belong to the banned Lashkar-e-Tayyiba group a hard-line Islamic group that has been fighting Indian security forces since 1989.

Police say they strongly suspect that the militants killed Saturday were linked to a string of bomb blasts that have hit Bombay in recent months.

The deadliest blast on a packed suburban train earlier this month, killed 11 people and wounding 75. Earlier, three bombings in the city had targeted crowded places such as markets and buses, wounding dozens of people. Police claimed the blasts were linked because all used a similar kind of explosive.

No group claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.

Security has been tightened in Bombay since the explosions.

The Lashkar-e-Tayyiba group mostly operates in Indian Kashmir, where it is fighting to free Kashmir from Indian rule.

But Indian police have accused the group of involvement in a number of militant attacks in other parts of the country. It was one of the groups that India alleged mounted an attack on its parliament in December 2001. Pakistan banned the group following the Indian allegations.