Minister in quake-hit Indian Kashmir murdered
Updated: 2005-10-18 21:43
Indian Kashmir's junior education minister, Ghulam Nabi
Lone, was shot and killed in a raid on his home by Muslim militants on Tuesday
in the region's main city of Srinagar, police said.
A Kashmiri earthquake survivor walks past a
destroyed school building in Kalgai, 120 km (75 miles) west of Srinagar
October 18, 2005. The quake killed at least 41,000 in Pakistan and injured
67,000, while in Indian Kashmir a further 1,300 people died.
"He is dead ... a suicide attacker stormed into his official residence," a
senior police officer said. Two of the minister's police bodyguards were also
A Pakistan Kashmir-based militant group, the Islamic Front, claimed
responsibility in a call to a local news agency.
Tuesday's attack came as authorities in Indian Kashmir struggle to provide
relief and shelter to thousands made homeless by the devastating earthquake that
hit the Himalayan region on October 8.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock over Lone's killing and urged
people in the region to remain calm and defeat those spreading violence.
Top interior ministry officials met in New Delhi to review the situation.
V.K. Duggal, the most senior bureaucrat in the federal interior ministry,
said the attack would not hinder quake relief work.
"This is coming at a time when the whole country and the government of India
are working to rebuild the earthquake-hit areas," he said, but added: "This is
an unpardonable act."
Analysts say militants are trying to show they can still strike despite
losing many of their own in the earthquake. India also says many rebel camps
were destroyed in Pakistani Kashmir.
"They want to convey they are still active and disrupt the ongoing peace
process (with Pakistan)," said Amitabh Mattoo, vice-chancellor of the Jammu
Police said at least two militants scaled the wall of the 53-year-old
minister's house from an adjoining home of a communist deputy in the assembly.
One of them shot Lone.
The militants then threw grenades at police guards, killing two policemen and
In 2002, Indian Kashmir's junior interior minister, Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, was
killed by militants during an election campaign.
NO LET UP DESPITE QUAKE
Pakistan, which India says abets militants fighting its rule in Kashmir,
condemned the latest assassination.
Militant attacks have continued after the earthquake with soldiers and Hindu
civilians being killed in separate strikes in Indian Kashmir.
Since the quake, Indian troops have killed at least 16 militants trying to
cross the Line of Control into India from Pakistan's portion of Kashmir.
But Kashmiri politicians say they will not allow the violence to derail
relief efforts for tens of thousands of quake survivors struggling without
shelter as the Himalayan winter approaches.
The chief minister of India's Jammu and Kashmir state, Mufti Mohammad Syed,
said the militants had acted with total disregard to earthquake survivors.
"It seems these people don't have feelings for human beings," he told
reporters in Srinagar.
More than 45,000 people have been killed in Jammu and
Kashmir -- mainly Hindu India's only Muslim-majority state -- in the 16-year-revolt against New Delhi's rule.