AMRITSAR, Punjab, India,1 May , Reuter: Violence claimed at }last nine more lives in Punjab on Sunday as militant Sikhs continued their stepped up battle for an independent state, police said.

They said the victims included a prominent freedom fighter, a leading Marxist farmer and a mother and daughter.

The killings brought the death toll around the state in the past three days to at least 44 as freedom fighters battle for an independent Sikh homeland they call Khalistan — “Land of the Pure”.

Police said that among the dead was Kisan Singh, whom they described as an area commander of the Khalistan Commando Force, one of the leading militant groups.

They said he was killed in an early morning clash with police near Faridkot, near the Pakistan border South of Amritsar. Four militants with him escaped.

Sucha Singh, a prominent farmer and former head of the Marxist Amritsar Rural Farmers Association, was killed by gunmen during the night, police said.

They had no immediate explanation for that attack, or for the similar killings of Paramjit Kaur,

45, and her daughter Prasanji Kaur, 18, in a village 65 km northeast of Amritsar.

Gunmen have frequently broken down doors in the middle of the night and dragged people out to be shot, apparently because they or family members were suspected of being police informers.

Over 770 people have been killed in the Punjab violence this year, compared with about 1,230 in all of 1987.

Police said four other freedom fighters were killed in Western Punjab on Sunday and that one as yet unidentified body was found after a prolonged clash between freedom fighters and police near Amritsar.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 6, 1988