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Srinagar: 7 killed as militants open fire

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: May 21, 2006 20:55 IST
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Seven persons including one policeman were killed and ten others including the Kashmir Zone police chief were injured when suicide militants attacked the Congress party rally in the Sher-e-Kashmir park in summer capital Srinagar on Sunday afternoon.

Police said two fidayeen militants in police uniform forced their entry inside the park where hundreds of Congress workers had gathered in connection with the 15th death anniversary of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The fidayeen hurled hand grenades and sprayed bullets from automatics at the police guarding the venue and Congress workers who were inside the park. Police said two civilians and one policeman died on the spot while 13 others including the inspector general of police Kashmir zone K.Rajendra were injured in the shooting.

The attack happened minutes before the arrival of the chief minister who was scheduled to address the meeting. Several senior Congress party leaders including some ministers were present on the stage in the park when the militants struck.

Security forces and police immediately surrounded the park and had difficulty in evacuating the Congress party workers from inside the park. "One by one we managed to evacuate the workers from inside the park," said a senior police officer.

He told that one fidayeen has been gunned down while the other who tried to escape was located and engaged in a gun battle in the adjoining polo-ground.

"I had just entered the park and was going towards the stage when suddenly I heard the sounds of gunfire. I managed to jump out of the park and then we ran for cover," said Abdul Samad a Congress party worker.

Intermittent firing exchanges are continuing still and the area has been completely sealed. No movement is being allowed in the area. Senior police and security force officers are at the spot.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar