SRINAGAR, India // Troops raided Kashmiri hide-outs of a group accused in last month's deadly Mumbai attacks, killing at least four rebels, police said today. The four allegedly belonged to Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group India accuses of masterminding the attacks that killed 179 people, said Hemant Lohia, a senior police officer. One, Iqbal Malik, was a rebel commander allegedly involved in raising money, recruiting fighters and planning attacks against the Indian army, he said. The police claim could not independently confirmed.
Soldiers cordoned off Tantana, 180 miles South-east of Srinagar in Indian Kashmir, early today after receiving a tip about suspected rebels. The ensuing gun battle left three rebels and one soldier dead, Mr Lohia said. Separately, one suspected insurgent was killed on Thursday after government forces converged on his hideout in nearby Chiralla village, Mr Lohia said. In Srinagar, shops, businesses and government offices were closed in response to a strike called by separatist groups.
Thousands of soldiers in riot gear patrolled the deserted streets of the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state. Authorities were preventing people from leaving their homes to join protests, said shopkeeper Ghulam Mohammed, and a ban against public gatherings of more than five people was in force. The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but both claim it in its entirety.
The longtime rivals have fought three wars, two of them over control of Kashmir, since winning independence from Britain in 1947. Nearly a dozen separatist groups have been fighting since 1989 to end Indian rule in the Himalayan region. The uprising and a subsequent Indian crackdown have killed more than 68,000 people, mostly civilians. Tensions have flared since the attacks late last month in Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital, with New Delhi calling on Islamabad to take strong action against Lashkar-i-Taiba.