Army blasts police headquarters in Kashmir to flush out rebels

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The Independent Online

Indian soldiers blasted a police station with rockets earlier today, hoping to flush out Islamic rebels who allegedly killed three policemen there.

Indian soldiers blasted a police station with rockets earlier today, hoping to flush out Islamic rebels who allegedly killed three policemen there.

Soldiers took positions in civilians' houses around the headquarters of the Special Operations Group in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state. But after hours of blasts that continued through the night, eyewitnesses said soldiers could not get inside the building because the rebels were firing back, officials said.

The attack on Monday was one of the boldest staged by the guerrillas. It targeted elite Indian commandos on their own ground.

In recent weeks, separatist guerrillas - fighting for an independent nation or to merge with neighboring Pakistan - have stormed Indian army bases, including the military headquarters in Srinagar, and killed more than a dozen soldiers.

It is believed police officers are still trapped in the police headquarters.

The clash coincided with a hostage drama being played out in the Afghan city of Kandahar by airplane hijackers demanding that India release Kashmiri militants from jail.

A man claiming to be a spokesman of the banned Harkat-ul-Mujahideen rebel group telephoned news organizations in Srinagar to claim responsibility for the attack at the police headquarters, Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Maulana Masood Azhar, the Kashmiri activist the plane hijackers want released, belongs to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.

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