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Mosque blast kills religious leader in Indian Kashmir

The president of the religious group Jamiat-e-ahle Hadith was killed by a bomb as he neared the mosque today.

Kashmiri Muslims shout slogans as they crowd around the body of Moulvi Showkat Ahmed Shah
Kashmiri Muslims shout slogans as they crowd around the body of Moulvi Showkat Ahmed Shah
Image: Mukhtar Khan/AP/Press Association Images

A BLAST OUTSIDE a mosque in the Indian portion of Kashmir today has killed a prominent Muslim religious leader and wounded a bystander, police said.

Moulvi Showkat Ahmed Shah, the president of the religious group Jamiat-e-ahle Hadith, was nearing the mosque in Srinagar to lead Friday prayers when the explosion occurred.

Police believe an explosive was tied to a parked bicycle and triggered by remote control, and that it appeared Shah had been the intended target.

Jamiat-e-ahle Hadith has nearly 1 million members in the Indian portion of Kashmir and runs about 600 mosques and religious schools.

The victim was considered a moderate leader and a close ally of the pro-independence Jammu-Kashmir liberation Front.

He had condemned the common practice of throwing stones at government forces as part of resistance against Indian rule in the region, and was not liked by rebel groups. His home was hit by a grenade in 2008.

However, the United Jehad Council, an umbrella organisation of more than a dozen rebel groups based in the Pakistani portion of Kashmir, condemned Shah’s killing and said this was “the handiwork of Indian agencies.”

Since 1989, more than a dozen Islamic militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with neighboring Pakistan. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

India and Pakistan have recently resumed peace talks that were interrupted by the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

- AP

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