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DATE=5/15/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=INDIA/KASHMIR (L-O) NUMBER=2-262369 BYLINE=ANJANA PASRICHA DATELINE=NEW DELHI INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: In Indian Kashmir, suspected Muslim militants have killed a state government minister, and at least four other people. From New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha reports, the Indian government is trying to launch a political initiative in the insurgency-wracked Himalayan region. TEXT: Police say Jammu and Kashmir Power Minister Ghulam Hasan Bhatt died instantly when a remote- controlled landmine blew up his bullet-proof car near Doru, 75-kilometers south of the summer capital Srinagar. The minister had been visiting his constituency. The minister's driver and bodyguards were also killed in the powerful explosion. The Hizbul Mujahideen group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group wants Kashmir to join Pakistan. Mr. Bhatt is the first sitting minister to be killed since a popularly elected government assumed office four-years ago. Several politicians and legislators have been killed by suspected militants during the decade-long separatist insurgency in the state. Muslim militants have stepped up attacks in the past year, mostly against the security forces. Police said more than 10 security personnel were injured in at least two other explosions in southern Kashmir. Meanwhile, New Delhi is trying to establish a dialogue with Kashmiri separatists. Informal channels of communication have been established with leaders of the All Parties Huriyat (Freedom) Conference who were released from prison last month. In an unusual move, the Indian government is providing security protection to four of the Kashmiri separatist leaders. Several Muslim militant groups have opposed efforts by New Delhi to open talks with the Huriyat leaders, and have vowed to step up their campaign against Indian rule. Kashmir is India's only Muslim majority province. A separatist insurgency that flared in the region 10- years ago has claimed more than 25-thousand lives. (SIGNED) NEB/AP/RAE 15-May-2000 08:35 AM EDT (15-May-2000 1235 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .