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J&K prepares for Manmohan's visit

Security has been tightened as PM will visit Srinagar on May 24 for talks with political leaders linked to peace efforts.

india Updated: May 22, 2006 13:12 IST

Security in Srinagar was tight on Monday as the city prepared for a visit by the Prime Minister after seven people died and 22 were injured in a weekend attack by terrorists.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was due to arrive in Srinagar on Wednesday for two days of talks with political leaders linked to peace efforts.

At least seven people died and 22 were injured on Sunday as armed rebels, opposed to peace efforts, attacked hundreds of people at a political event in Srinagar, forcing authorities to further step up security.

"We are making security arrangements for the event," AP Maheshwari, senior federal police officer said. "We have increased patrolling."

Both local and federal police on Monday set-up check points across the city and frisked people and searched cars for explosives.

Two Islamic groups, al Mansurain and Lashkar-e-Taiba, claimed responsibility for the Sunday attack.

Four hardline rebel groups have threatened to disrupt the Singh visit.

"We have been told to search all the vehicles entering Srinagar from other parts of the state," said a police constable Tariq Ahmed.

Some roads in Srinagar have also been sealed ahead of the visit forcing locals to take longer routes.

"Visits by any VIP is a big curse for Kashmiris," said Mushtaq Ahmed, who had to cover an extra eleven kilometres to reach his office.

Policemen were also deployed in strength around state-owned radio, television and telecommunications headquarters in Srinagar.

The first talks were held in New Delhi on February 25 but moderate Muslim separatist politicians stayed away.

Key pro-India politicians have urged separatists to join the roundtable discussions over Kashmir.