SRINAGAR: Three men were killed in a shootout with security forces in India-held Kashmir on Friday, the day after a local election official died in an attack in the restive region.

It was not clear whether the men who were killed had carried out Thursday’s attack in South Kashmir, in which one poll official died and five others were injured, but the clash took place in the same area.

“Three militants were killed in a fierce gunbattle in South Kashmir’s Shopian district where a poll official was killed last evening... ” South Kashmir police chief Vijay Kumar said.

“We are investigating if it is the same group that attacked a poll party last evening.”

The dead men were from Hizbul Mujahideen, a Kashmiri separatist group, Kumar claimed.

Many people stayed away from voting on Thursday in the Anantnag constituency of South Kashmir, after a string of attacks on village elders. Police said the attacks were the work of militants determined to derail the poll.

The constituency was one of six in Jammu and Kashmir that is voting on separate days in the five-week general elections, in order to minimise security risks.

Voting ends on May 12 with results due to be announced four days later.