Kashmir separatist condemns Taliban

SRINAGAR: "Acts of terrorism" by Taliban extremists in Pakistan are un-Islamic, a hardline Muslim politician campaigning for Kashmir's independence from India said.

Referring to Thursday's spate of bomb attacks in Pakistan's northwestern cities, in which 15 people were killed, Syed Ali Geelani told reporters that, "such attacks are forbidden in Islam as innocents are killed.

"Islam is a religion of peace and such attacks defame the religion," said the 79-year-old Geelani, who supports a two-decade insurgency against India's rule over half of Kashmir.

Geelani, who heads a hardline faction in the region's main separatist alliance, the Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, called on the Taliban to lay down their arms and hold peace talks with Pakistan's government.

"Taliban leadership needs to give up violence and adopt peaceful means to get their demands addressed," Geelani said, warning that killings of "innocent people cannot be tolerated."

Like many separatists seeking an end to India's rule over part of Kashmir, Geelani is opposed to negotiations with New Delhi until it recognises Kashmir as a disputed territory.

Last year, Geelani was among leaders of massive anti-India demonstrations in the scenic Himalayan region in which over 50 Muslim protesters were killed.

The insurgency in Kashmir, which is ruled in part by Pakistan and India but claimed in full by both, has left more than 47,000 people dead since it began in 1989.