30 officials quit in Kashmir after rebel threats

Updated 23 April 2014
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30 officials quit in Kashmir after rebel threats

SRINAGAR, India: At least 30 fearful local officials have resigned in Indian Kashmir after rebels killed two colleagues and issued a warning against voting this week in the country's elections, residents said Wednesday.
Hand-written notices announcing the resignations were posted in Tral area of the southern Kashmir valley where militants shot dead two officials and another man on Monday night, residents told AFP.
Notices also appeared in local newspapers, while local imams read out other resignation letters of officials from "panchayat" or village councils at mosques in Tral town, residents and local media reports said.
"We were misled that Panchayat elections are only meant for addressing local issues. It was a mistake on our part and we apologise for that," one of the resignation letters seen by AFP read.
In some of the resignation letters, council members dissociated themselves from political parties taking part in the current election as well as denying involvement in the election process.
Tensions are running high ahead of voting in the area on Thursday, after rebels issued a warning against taking part in the mammoth general election underway throughout India.
Separatists have called for a boycott of the staggered election which ends next month when hardline Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi and his party are expected to vault to power after a decade of Congress-party rule.
Rebels often target council members as part of their insurgency, with at least a dozen killed since elections were held in 2010 in the region for "panchayat" or village councils.
A dozen rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Muslim-majority region's independence or for merger of the territory with Pakistan. The fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mainly civilians, dead.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1947.
Police were hunting for militants who killed one village council head in Tral area of Pulwana district on Monday. They killed another senior village official and his 24-year-old son about an hour later in the same area.
Local militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen put up posters in the area on Tuesday warning residents that "voting for tyrants will entail punishment."


Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas hold 1st local polls

Updated 12 min 21 sec ago
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Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas hold 1st local polls

  • Some 2.8 million voters are registered for Saturday’s elections
  • Pakistan claims to have cleared the tribal areas of militants in a series of military operations in recent years

PESHAWAR: Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas are holding their first-ever provincial elections, in a region along the Afghan border that was once a stronghold for the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other militant groups.
The seven tribal districts were merged last year into the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Before that, the tribal areas were federally administered, and residents could only vote in the national assembly.
Sohail Khan, a spokesman for the provincial election body, said 285 candidates, including two women, are running for sixteen seats.
Some 2.8 million voters are registered for Saturday’s elections, which opened at 8 a.m. local time amid heightened security.
Pakistan claims to have cleared the tribal areas of militants in a series of military operations in recent years, but the region still sees occasional attacks.