Indian Forces End Two-Day Kashmir Siege
8 January 2005
Srinagar: Indian security forces killed the last rebel holed up inside a government office Saturday, ending a two-day battle during which guerrillas took over the building and set it on fire with dozens of employees inside, authorities said. Eight people died. Security forces ended the siege Saturday afternoon, senior police officer H.K. Lohia said. Eight people - two civilians, three security men and three militants - were killed during the clash. The militant has been killed and the building is now sanitized and under control of the forces,' he said. On Friday, three militants entered the income tax office building in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state, and threw a hand grenade that set the offices ablaze. Police surrounded the burning building and helped most of its 70 workers escape unharmed, including some on ladders. Firefighters put out the blaze. An unidentified person who called himself the spokesman for the Pakistan-based Al-Mansoorain militant group claimed responsibility for the attack in a Saturday telephone call to a local news agency. Al-Mansoorain is one of more than a dozen Islamic rebel groups fighting security forces in India's portion of Kashmir seeking the region's independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan. The 15-year separatist insurgency in India's only Muslim- majority state has claimed more than 66,000 lives.