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Thursday Jun 14 2018

Veteran journalist shot dead in Indian-occupied Kashmir

Amnesty India described Bukhari as "a brave and outspoken voice for justice and equality in Jammu and Kashmir". Photo: File

SRINAGAR: Unknown gunmen shot a veteran journalist and his police bodyguard dead on Thursday in the main city of violence-plagued Indian-occupied-Kashmir, police and witnesses said.

Shujaat Bukhari, editor of an English language daily Rising Kashmir, had just entered his vehicle outside his office in the city´s press enclave when assailants fired several shots from close range.

"He (Bukhari) is no more. One of his two police bodyguards also died in the attack," a top police officer told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another police guard and the vehicle driver were critically wounded in the attack.

Fellow journalists were on the scene soon afterward. Bukhari was slumped over in the back seat, and one of the police bodyguards had a gruesome head wound.

Bukhari was a protected journalist, guarded by two armed police around the clock, in an area of India where political violence and threats to reporters is common.

His final tweet, sent just a few hours before his murder, was a link to his website´s reporting of the UN human rights chief calling for a major investigation into abuses committed by India in Kashmir.

Pakistan condemns Bukhari's killing

Pakistan strongly condemned the targeted killing of the Kashmiri journalist and demanded Indian authorities to investigate the matter and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

"Pakistan strongly condemns the targeted killing of renowned Kashmiri journalist, Shujaat Bukhari and his guard in Srinagar, IOK today," said Dr Faisal, a spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Office, on Twitter.

"Our heartfelt condolences and prayers are for their families. Violence must end; Perpetrators should be brought to justice.

"Bukhari's targeted killing within hours of his tweet on the OHCHR report on Jammu & Kashmir - terrible coincidence, raises serious questions - India should investigate and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice," Faisal added.

'Brave and outspoken'

Amnesty India described Bukhari as "a brave and outspoken voice for justice and equality in Jammu and Kashmir". "This is a grave attack on press freedom and democratic voices," the Editors Guild of India added on Twitter.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh described Bukhari´s murder as an "act of cowardice".

"It is an attempt to silence the saner voices of Kashmir. He was a courageous and fearless journalist," he added. Witnesses said Bukhari died on the spot while the assailants fled immediately.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

Pro-independence youth fighting Indian rule of Kashmir as well as government forces have been accused in the past of abducting, attacking and threatening journalists. 

The attack comes a day before the end of a unilateral halt in military operations against the Kashmiri youth for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Groups fighting for independence of Kashmir have rejected the brief "ceasefire".


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