India to hang fruit seller involved in 2001 parliament attack plot: Official

NEW DELHI (AFP) - A fruit seller sentenced to death for taking part in the plot to attack India's parliament in 2001 is to be executed on Saturday after his final mercy plea was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee.

Asked to comment on reports that Mohammed Afzal Guru would hang on Saturday, Home Secretary R. K. Singh told AFP: "Yes, but not as yet."

uru was found guilty of conspiring with and sheltering the militants who attacked the parliament in December 2001 and of being a member of banned Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Jaish-e-Mohammed fights against Indian rule in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, where a separatist conflict has cost up to 100,000 lives since the insurgency began in 1989, according to rights' groups.

Five armed rebels stormed India's parliament in New Delhi on December 13, 2001, killing eight police officers and a gardener before they were shot dead by security forces. A journalist wounded in the attack died months later.

Sources in the intelligence wing of the Indian army said they had been instructed to prepare for a possible backlash in Kashmir after Guru's execution.

"We were informed that Afzal Guru will be hanged on Saturday and therefore we must tighten security," a senior army official told AFP.

Executions are only carried out for the "rarest of rare" cases in India and Guru's would be only the second since 2004.

The sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Pakistani-born Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, was executed on November 21 last year.

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