Anti-terror agency raids homes of Kashmir separatists

Srinagar (India) (AFP) - India's anti-terrorism agency Saturday searched the homes of separatist leaders in restive Kashmir as part of an investigation of their finances and alleged anti-government activities.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) agency is probing if the separatists received funds illegally from Pakistan-based extremists to carry out "subversive activities" including stone-pelting and arson.

In an early morning crackdown in the main city of Srinagar, NIA sleuths targeted several separatist leaders and businessmen, as well as the son-in-law of hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, police sources confirmed to AFP.

Eight locations in the capital Delhi were also raided.

The NIA last month launched a preliminary enquiry into the sources of funding of separatist leaders including Geelani, Naeem Khan and Farooq Ahmed Dar.

The agency is investigating if the leaders received funds from Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, a firebrand cleric who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) group, and other Pakistan-based militant outfits.

The US and India consider JuD, listed as a terror outfit by the United Nations, to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group blamed for the 2008 attack on India's financial capital which killed more than 160 people.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been tense since April 9, when eight people were killed by police and paramilitary forces during election day violence.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the valley, where most people favour independence or a merger with predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

Separately on Saturday, two soldiers were killed after militants attacked an army convoy near Lower Munda on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

"Six soldiers were injured and two of them died later," an army officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim it in full and have fought two wars over the mountainous region.