Militants issue poll threat, two security men killed in Kashmir

Militants issue poll threat, two security men killed in Kashmir New Delhi  - The Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group has issued a warning to people in India-administered Kashmir against voting in the elections as two security men were killed in a gun battle with militants in the insurgency state on Sunday, news reports said.

The LeT, among the leading militant groups operating in Indian Kashmir has threatened "action" against people for violation and said it would carry out suicide attacks during elections in the state, the PTI news agency reported.

"We would take action against the people participating in parliamentary elections," Abdullah Gaznavi, spokesman of the LeT which is based in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, was quoted as saying by PTI.

"People should keep away from political rallies and completely boycott the elections. People should restrain from working as polling agents of political leaders," Gaznavi added.

The threat is being taken seriously by the Indian security agencies, particularly since the LeT has been blamed for several daring attacks in the region and parts of India including last November's Mumbai attacks that left more than 170 people dead.

Voting for the staggered month-long Indian general elections will be held in Kashmir from April 30 onwards. The LeT threat comes after a showdown between the main separatist Hurriyat Conference and United Jehad Council, an amalgam of 13 militant outfits based in Pakistan- administered Kashmir.

While Hurriyat has said it would not give a call for boycott of elections, the UJC has asked people to stay away from polls. Despite a boycott call by separatists, a record voter turnout was seen during state elections last year.

Meanwhile, violence continued in the state's Doda district after two LeT militants and a woman operative were shot dead in a gun- battle with security forces on Saturday.

On Sunday, two security personnel including a trooper and policeman were killed in another combat with militants in Doda situated about 180 kilometres north-east of the state's winter capital Jammu.

Local media also reported that LeT militants had abducted two villagers from Doda on Sunday.

The disputed Kashmir region is divided in two parts, one administered by India the other by Pakistan. The neighbours have fought two wars over the disputed region.

More than 45,000 people have died in violence since the secessionist militant movement emerged in the 1980s.

India has repeatedly accused Pakistan of aiding Kashmiri militants. Islamabad denies the charge, calling the insurgents freedom fighters. (dpa)