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LeT Says, Militants, Not Army Killed Moulvi Showkat

PTI 26 Aug 2011, 18:09:04 IST

Srinagar, Aug 26: Lashkar-e-Taiba has alleged that it was militants owing allegiance to Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen which killed Moulvi Showkat Ahmed Shah in the Valley in April.

Lashkar in a statement said militants and not Indian forces assassinated the prominent Kashmiri religious leader in April.

Militants groups had vowed to find the killers after widespread anger erupted among Kashmiris over the killing of the religious leader. The investigation by Lashkar-e-Taiba is the first by a rebel group into a major killing since the rebellion erupted in 1989.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of nearly a dozen rebel groups in Kashmir and has been blamed for several attacks in India, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. India accuses Pakistan of supporting the group even though it is officially banned there.

The report Lashkar-e-Taiba released Thursday said the group initially thought Indian forces and institutions had killed Moulvi Showkat Ahmed Shah to weaken rebel groups in Kashmir.

“We initially thought that the Indian army and the (government) institutions had martyred him to weaken the movement and create misunderstanding between us. We had no idea that the killers would be within us,” the report said.

Shah headed Jamiat-e-ahle Hadith, a puritanical religious group with nearly 1 million members in Kashmir. He was killed in April by a remote-controlled bomb rigged to a bicycle near a mosque in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-held Kashmir.

Police within weeks blamed the murder on factional rivalry, arrested three people and accused a top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander of helping the killers with explosives.

Lashkar-e-Taiba blamed two of the men already in police custody charged with Shah's muder. It said they were members of an almost-defunct militant group, Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, which was believed to be close to Shah's religious group in the early 1990s.

However, Lashkar-e-Taiba said none of its members was involved in the killing. AP