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Kashmir Candidate Escapes Gunfire

September 10, 1999

SRINAGAR, India (AP) _ For the second time in three days, suspected Kashmiri guerrillas opened fire Friday on a candidate in parliamentary elections.

Mohammad Maqbool Dar of the United Janata Dal party escaped injury when the assailants fired bullets at his convoy as he was campaigning in Shahjimarg, 25 miles southwest of state capital Srinagar, police said.

Dar’s guards fired back, but the gunmen escaped, police said. One of the guards was injured in the attack.

Dar is running for federal parliament from the Anantnag district of Jammu-Kashmir state, where a violent insurrection has left more than 25,000 people dead in 10 years.

Guerrillas and pro-independence groups have called for a boycott of the elections, saying the voting will not help Kashmiris decide if they want to break away from India.

On Wednesday, suspected militants gunned down Ghulam Hyder Noorani, a candidate of the prime minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party who was also running from Anantnag district. His death prompted the independent Election Commission to defer voting to Oct. 4 in the district.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the ruling Hindu nationalist coalition hopes to lead his party to a decisive victory in the race for the 543-seat Indian parliament in the country’s monthlong elections.

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