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Top militants killed in Kashmir

  • Story Highlights
  • Police: Indian army, paramilitary forces fight militants in south Kashmir
  • Militants belong to Hizbul Mujahedeen, police say
  • Top commander of Pakistan-based Harkatul Mujahedeen killed separately
  • Indian security forces have intensified operations against militants
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From Mukhtar Ahmad
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SRINAGAR, Indian-Administered Kashmir (CNN) -- Three top militant commanders were killed in two separate encounters with security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir, police said.

Kashmiri villagers pray during the funeral of Mohammed Haneef, a Hizbul Mujahedeen commander, Sunday.

The clashes, which culminated with their deaths on Sunday, followed five days of heavy snowfall across Kashmir that claimed 19 lives, 10 of them on Friday alone.

Late Saturday Indian army and paramilitary forces engaged a group of militants hiding in south Kashmir, Noorpora village, 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the capital of Srinagar, a police spokesman said.

He identified them as belonging to Hizbul Mujahedeen, comprising mostly local militants.

"As (they) refused to lay down their weapons, a sustained encounter resulted, which continued for several hours," the spokesman said.

A militant commander and the financial chief of the group were among the dead, he said.

A top commander of Pakistan-based Harkatul Mujahedeen was killed in a separate north-Kashmir encounter between militants and Indian security forces, the spokesman said.

Indian security forces have recently intensified their operations against militants. In the past 15 days, nearly 20 militants have been killed across Indian-administered Kashmir in gunfights.

Kashmir has long been an object of dispute between nuclear rivals and neighbors India and Pakistan, and militants fighting for Kashmir's separation from India have been carrying out attacks against the Indian security forces in Kashmir for 19 years.

The separatist violence has left 42,000 people dead, officials said. However, rights groups and various non-governmental organizations put the number at twice that official figure. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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