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‘I’m Dying,’ Kashmir Victim Wrote in Note

<i> From Associated Press</i>

One note found on Hans Christian Ostro’s decapitated body was written in Urdu by his kidnapers. The other, tucked away in his clothing, was scribbled in Norwegian by Ostro himself.

“I’m dying. There’s nothing to eat. There’s nothing to live for,” wrote a despondent Ostro, 27. His body was found Sunday in the Himalayan village of Seer. The name Al Faran, the kidnapers’ group, was carved on his chest.

In their note, left in Ostro’s shirt pocket, the Kashmiri separatists gave India until today to release jailed guerrillas, or else the other hostages--an American, two Britons and a German--would be killed.

Officials said the guerrilla group made contact with authorities Monday but declined to give details.

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Ostro’s killing sent shock waves through Kashmir and prompted an unprecedented condemnation of the militants by the political groups leading the campaign for the region’s independence from India.

Norwegian Ambassador Arne Walther confirmed that a second note, written in Norwegian, was found on the headless corpse. But he declined to disclose what it said. Indian officials provided the translated excerpts.

In New Delhi, a crisis management group of senior officials met to consider India’s options. They refused to rule out the possibility of a rescue attempt.

But Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee was quoted as saying that India would not meet the kidnapers’ demands and free captured guerrillas. His comment was made during a telephone call to his Norwegian counterpart, Bjorn Tore Godal, Press Trust of India reported.

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In New Delhi, an autopsy showed that Ostro was beheaded while alive, said a senior government official with access to the autopsy report. Investigators believe he died Saturday, said the official.

Ostro was one of six Himalayan trekkers kidnaped in early July in a tourist region 40 miles south of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir state. One of them, a second American, escaped.

Muslim militant groups have been fighting for more than five years for the independence of Kashmir, the only predominantly Muslim state in mostly Hindu India. At least 12,000 people have been killed.


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