May 7, 2006

“Master bomb-maker” killed in Kashmir clash: army

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Indian soldiers shot dead a
senior Kashmiri militant on Sunday who the army said was a
bomb-making expert responsible for a series of explosions
across the strife-torn Himalayan region.

Mushtaq Bhat, a district commander of Hizbul Mujahideen,
Kashmir's frontline militant group, was killed in an ambush by
troops in Tral town, an army spokesman said.

Tral is to the south of Srinagar, the summer capital of the
disputed region which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

"Bhat was the mastermind of all the car bomb blasts in the
(Kashmir) valley since 2004 which led to a large number of
casualties among security forces and innocent civilians,"
spokesman V.K. Batra said.

"He was a dreaded and most-wanted terrorist in south
Kashmir. He was active since 1993 and had undergone extensive
training on arms and making of improvised explosive devices in
Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," Batra added, referring to the part
of Kashmir under Pakistan's control.

There was no comment from Hizbul Mujahideen about Bhat.

There has been a spurt in separatist violence across
Kashmir in recent weeks which Indian officials say is an
attempt to disrupt a slow moving peace process between India
and Pakistan and peace talks between New Delhi and Kashmiri
separatist groups.

Nearly 47,000 people have been killed in violence since a
separatist revolt against Indian rule broke out in the region
in 1989.