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Indian police: Parliament attack mastermind killed
( 2003-08-31 09:27) (Agencies)

 Indian security forces and police fought two gunbattles Saturday in Kashmir and New Delhi, killing the man they say planned a deadly attack on the Indian parliament and several members of his terrorist group, authorities said.

Police in the troubled Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir said the Indian Border Security Force fought for hours with a group of suspected militants in the Noor Bagh neighborhood of Srinagar -- the state's summer capital -- before entering the house where they were hiding.

Two of the suspected militants were killed, police said. One member of the Indian security force was killed and nine were wounded.

One of the dead militants, Indian officials said, was Ghazi Baba, the commander-in-chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, or the Army of Muhammad, believed to have been the mastermind of the attack on parliament December 13, 2001.

Saturday night, acting on a tip, New Delhi police arrested three men in a truck carrying weapons and explosives into the city from the disputed region of Kashmir. The men, captured at Sadar Bazaar, led police to the place where they were to have handed over the cache.

Police spokesman Neeraj Kumar said police received a tip about the truck several days ago and knew the last four digits of its license plate. In the truck was a container with 10 hand grenades, 10 rockets and a grenade launcher.

The battle began about 8 p.m. [10:30 a.m. EDT] after a car drove up to the Nizamuddin bridge. Two suspected Jaish-e-Mohammed militants -- one Indian, one Pakistani -- tried to flee and were killed in the gunbattle, Kumar said.

India has beefed up security in its major cities amid fears of a violent backlash to Monday's deadly bombings in Mumbai -- formerly Bombay -- that killed 52 people and wounded at least 150.

Earlier Saturday, New Delhi police found a bag containing nearly 50 pounds [21 kilograms] of explosive sticks at the main railway station. No detonators were found in the duffel bag with the 148 sticks, and police do not believe the explosives were intended to be detonated at the railway station.

Police discovered the bag on a bench on a platform.

India stepped up its war against terrorism after the attack on the Indian parliament, in which 12 people, including five assailants, were killed. Police blamed the attack on Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the armed wing of the Pakistan-based religious organization Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad.

Jaish-e-Mohammed also was blamed for an earlier attack on the state legislature in Srinagar.

The parliament attack in New Delhi brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Both groups are based in Pakistan, and the United States and India consider them both terrorist groups. Both deny responsibility for the attack.

The groups aim to unite Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, with Pakistan.

India convicted four Indian-national Kashmiris of involvement in the attack, and sentenced three of them to death in December.

Islamic militants and Kashmiri separatists have been battling Indian rule in Kashmir almost since India's independence from Britain and the creation of Pakistan.

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