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India extra vigilant in Kashmir after temple attack
( 2002-09-25 17:18 ) (7 )

Indian security forces stepped up security at Hindu temples in disputed Kashmir on Wednesday after gunmen attacked a temple in faraway Gujarat, shooting indiscriminately at devotees and killing 29 people.

Officers took up position in and around temples in Jammu, the winter capital of Indian Kashmir, the country's only Muslim-majority state and where more than 500 people have been killed during campaigning for elections still under way.

"We have directed our force to be extra vigilant and temple authorities have been asked to report any suspicious movement," a police official said in Jammu, a city studded with Hindu temples.

Militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir stormed a 150-year-old temple in the heart of Jammu in April, opening fire on worshippers inside. Ten people were killed.

Indian officials have said the attack in Gujarat could be linked to the election in Kashmir which lies at the heart of a nine-month military standoff between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan. India wants the elections to be a success to help legitimise its rule.

The attack in Gujarat's capital, Gandhinagar, came just as polling stations closed in Jammu, summer capital Srinagar and adjoining Budgam in the second phase of elections.

Election officials said the voter turnout touched 42 percent in some areas, although Srinagar, which has been a hotbed of separatist sentiment, recorded a low 11 percent turnout.

Without explicitly naming Pakistan, Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani said the "enemies of the country" were behind the attack on the Akshardham temple in Gujarat.

Islamabad, which has dismissed the election in Kashmir as a farce, condemned the temple attack.

More than 450,000 soldiers drawn from the army, paramilitary and state special forces are deployed for the elections to choose a new state assembly for Jammu and Kashmir.



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