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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Suspected Islamic Militants Kill Indian Kashmir Minister

18 October 2005

Suspected Islamic militants in Indian Kashmir have shot and killed the education minister in a raid that left several other people dead or injured. The latest violence in the divided Himalayan region comes as Indian authorities struggle to get relief to areas damaged by last week's earthquake.

Indian officials say a group of militants hurled grenades as they launched a daring daylight raid Tuesday on a high security residential complex for state ministers in Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar.

After exchanging fire with security guards, the militants broke into the house of State Education Minister Ghulam Nabi Lone, and shot him dead.

Social Welfare Minister Gulam Hassan Khan, who also lives in the compound, described what happened.

Mr. Khan says he heard shooting. His bodyguard told him militants had entered the complex and ordered him to stay inside and lock the door. He says he later heard of the fatal attack on Lone.

The raid is the most brazen attack in Indian Kashmir since the October 8 earthquake killed at least 1200 people in the Indian controlled area and more than 50,000 in the Pakistani controlled sector.

The attack comes as the authorities struggle to get relief to the thousands of people in Indian Kashmir made homeless by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake.

India has also offered earthquake relief assistance to Pakistan, raising hopes that that the shared tragedy could advance peace efforts between the two countries over the disputed region of Kashmir.

But separatists in Indian Kashmir have continued attacks unabated since the quake, although the Indian and Pakistani armies are currently observing a cease-fire.

The nuclear rivals have fought two wars over Kashmir, but in recent months have moved towards resolving their differences in an ongoing peace process.

But India maintains that Islamic militants still use Pakistan as a base from which to launch attacks against Indian forces, with, it says, support from the Pakistan government. Pakistan denies the charges.

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