SRINAGAR, India – Suspected rebels in India-controlled Kashmir gunned down two village elders and one victim's son in attacks that police said were aimed at scaring off voters in the country's general election.
The attacks late Monday led the ruling Congress party to cancel a nearby election rally, said Ghulam Nabi Monga, a lawmaker with the party.
With 814 million eligible voters, India is voting in phases over six weeks, with results announced May 16. Thursday is one of several voting days in Kashmir. But rebels and separatist politicians have urged Kashmiris to boycott the vote, saying they do not recognize India's sovereignty over the disputed Himalayan region.
In the first attack, militants stormed the home of a village headman in Batgund village, killing him and his adult son, a police officer said. He asked that his name not be published because he is not authorized to speak publicly.
The same militants then killed another village official in nearby Amlar village.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
But police said the killings were meant to dissuade people from voting.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and its candidate for prime minister, Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, are seen as the biggest rivals to Congress in the election.
Indian Kashmir elects only six members for 543-member strong Indian parliament, but voting is scheduled over several days due to security concerns.
More than a dozen rebel groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or merger with Pakistan since 1989.
About 68,000 people have been killed so far in the conflict. While the armed rebellion has largely been suppressed, anti-India resentment still runs deep.