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Suspected Islamic Militants Killed in Gunfight; India Says Terror Mastermind Killed

Two suspected Islamic militants were killed Saturday in a battle with New Delhi (search) police, while security forces said they killed the mastermind behind the deadly attack on India's parliament in 2001 that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Indian police claimed to have killed Ghazi Baba (search), the head of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, during a fierce gun battle in Srinagar, the summer capital of India's portion of Kashmir.

Indian security officials say Ghazi Baba has been the mastermind behind several deadly terror attacks in different parts of the country, including the December 2001 attack on India's Parliament.

At least 14 people, including five assailants, died in that attack. India blamed the assault on Jaish-e-Mohammed (search), another Pakistan-based Islamic militant group and Pakistan's spy agency.

All three denied involvement.

The assault brought nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan to the brink of another war. The nuclear-armed neighbors quickly massed troops on their border but intense diplomatic efforts led by the United States helped avert war.

In New Delhi, Saturday's gunfight occurred near a park after police intercepted a car in which the two militants were traveling, said Neeraj Kumar, deputy commissioner of police.

Kumar said the two men belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based guerrilla group which he said has been plotting attacks in the capital.

The militants were en route to pick up weapons seized earlier Saturday from a truck in a New Delhi commercial district, but it was unclear if the bag of explosives discovered at the city's main train station was linked, he said.

The identities of the suspected militants could not be independently verified.

New Delhi has been on high alert since Monday, when twin bomb blasts in the country's financial center, Bombay, killed 52 people and injured 150. Those attacks were blamed on Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (search), another Islamic militant organization fighting for independence of the Himalayan region of Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.

Kashmir (search) is divided between India and Pakistan, but the nuclear-armed neighbors claim the region in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.

The gunfight in the Indian capital came hours after police seized a truck carrying grenades at Sadar Bazar — a trading hub in the central part of New Delhi. The grenades and other weapons were hidden inside fruit boxes, Kumar said.

Three men in the truck were detained and later revealed during interrogation that the weapons were to be handed over later Saturday to the militants.

"Accordingly, we laid a trap. When we intercepted them, they tried to flee and were killed," Kumar said.

Recent media reports have quoted police as saying that Islamic militants were plotting attacks in New Delhi, prompting tougher security checks for vehicles coming into the city.

Earlier Saturday, police on a routine patrol of the city's main train station found a bag that contained explosives weighing around 50 pounds on the railway platform. It was safely disposed of.

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