updated 1/16/2007 3:53:24 AM ET 2007-01-16T08:53:24

Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir offered a reward Tuesday for any information on a killer leopard believed to have eaten three children in the last week.

The children, ages 8 to 10, were mauled to death by a leopard near the Chatergul village last week, officials said. A 10-year-old boy also was killed there last month.

A $225 reward will be given to anyone with information on tracking down the leopard, said police officer Hemant Lohia.

Leopards are protected under the Indian Wildlife Act and their killing is punishable by up to six years imprisonment. Wildlife officers said an exception to laws protecting the animals had been made.

“We’ve given permission for the killing of leopard as it has turned into man-eater,” said Farooq Ahmed, an officer in the wildlife department.

Leopard attacks on humans sometimes increase in winter when the animals are forced down from their natural ranges by snow in search of food.

Chatergul village is 56 miles south of Srinagar, the summer capital of India’s Jammu-Kashmir state.

The Islamic state of Pakistan and majority-Hindu India both control parts of Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region in the Himalayan mountains, which was divided between them during partition of the subcontinent on independence from Britain in 1947. They have since fought two of their three wars over it — the first in 1948.

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