Assailants kill journalist, his police bodyguards in Kashmir
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A senior journalist and his two police bodyguards were fatally shot Thursday by assailants in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police and the journalist's colleagues said.
Shujaat Bukhari was shot by unidentified gunmen as he left his office in Srinagar, the disputed region's main city.
Bukhari, who was a group editor for three daily newspapers and a weekly, including the English-language daily Rising Kashmir, was targeted as he was getting into his vehicle.
Bukhari and one police bodyguard were declared dead on arrival at a hospital. The other bodyguard died later.
Police said the assailants came on a motorbike and fired a volley of bullets toward the victims, leaving Bukhari and his guards in a pool of blood.
He died before he could get medical aid, said Mohammed Omar, the group manager of Bukhari's newspapers.
"I would always accompany him to his vehicle when he would leave the office. I did the same today but I stopped half way as I got a phone call. In the meantime as he left I heard sounds of intense firing. I rushed to his vehicle where I saw him in a pool of blood," Omar said.
Bukhari was an advocate for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute and was often part of peace conferences between India and Pakistan attended by former diplomats and generals from both countries.
Journalists in Kashmir have worked under tremendous stress and have been targeted in the past, some fatally, by both the Indian state and militant groups.
About 15 years ago, journalist Parvaz Sultan was shot and killed in the same Press Enclave in Srinagar, where many media offices are located.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.
Most Kashmiris support the rebel cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.