Wednesday, March 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India





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Pak expels 2 Indian diplomats
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
In a typical diplomatic tit for tat, Pakistan today declared two Indian diplomats in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad as persona non grata and asked them to leave the country by March 26, a spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed today.

The Pakistani action was expected as it comes close on the heels of India expelling two Pakistani diplomats from the Pakistan High Commission here earlier this month on charges of their indulging in activities not compatible with their diplomatic status which in diplomatic jargon means spying.

Islamabad has levelled the same charge on Indian diplomats, Mr Pramod Kumar Saxena and Mr Makhan Singh. India has rejected the Pakistani allegation terming it as baseless. 
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2 holed-up militants shot
Siege of mosque ends

Indian soldiers at a camp
Indian soldiers at a camp in Sopore, 48 km north of Srinagar, inspect grenades and bullets seized from slain suspected militants on Tuesday.

Villagers gather near a mosque
Villagers gather near a mosque after suspected separatist militants held the authorities at bay by taking it during a siege at Mirangund village, 55 km north of Srinagar, on Tuesday. óReuters photos

Srinagar, March 19
Two militants, including the self-syled divisional commander of the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), holed up in a mosque were killed by the troops today, ending a nearly 14-hour-long stand-off in Baramula district of north Kashmir, defence sources said.

The mosque suffered no damage during the operation launched after the two militants took shelter inside the place of worship at Mirangund village near Kreeri, 27 km from here, last evening, they said.

The overnight siege of the mosque ended this morning when the troops of the Rashtriya Rifles gunned down both the militants when they tried to escape, sources said.

The crisis began last evening when the troops of Rashtriya Rifles laid a cordon around the village following specific information about the presence of some foreign militants, they said.

As the troops moved for house-to-house searches, two militants tried to flee but were confronted by the troops resulting in a brief exchange of fire.

The sources said the militants fled the scene and took shelter in a nearby mosque and continued firing on the troops.

The troops exercised restraint and took positions around the mosque, further strengthening the cordon and efforts were made to make the two militants surrender, they said.

The militants turned down the repeated appeals for surrender and continued firing on the troops throughout the night, the sources said.

The militants, who tried to escape from the mosque in the morning, were killed by the troops. Two AK assault rifles, some ammunition and a few grenades were seized from the slain militants, the sources said.

The area was under tight security cordon as the search operation was still on.

This is the 15th incident of militants taking shelter inside a mosque during the last ten years and third since February this year.

Elsewhere in the state, a militant and a girl were killed while a militant surrendered since last evening. PTIBack

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