SRINAGAR: Thousands of mourners thronged on Friday the funeral of a veteran Kashmiri journalist shot dead by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike outside his office in Srinagar.
Shujaat Bukhari, a leading journalist and editor of the English-language daily Rising Kashmir, was leaving his office in Srinagar on Thursday evening when three assailants roared up and fired several shots from close range.
Bukhari, 50, was rushed to hospital but was later declared dead. Two of his personal security guards also died.
The funeral prayers were held at the Jamia Masjid grand mosque in Srinagar before the burial in his native village in northern Kashmir.
Veteran Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari shot dead in Srinagar
Bukhari, who was given police protection following three attacks on him in the past decade, had been a strong advocate of peace in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Bukhari took part in informal peace talks on Kashmir with Pakistani representatives in Dubai last year.
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 both India and Pakistan in Kashmir.
The identity of the attackers and the motive for the killing was not yet known but Srinagar police released CCTV footage of the three suspects on the motorbike.
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The government of Jammu and Kashmir has ordered a high-level investigation into the attack that came just ahead of Eid.
Rising Kashmir on Friday carried a full-blown portrait of Bukhari on its front page against a black background.
"We won't be cowed down by the cowards who snatched you from us. We will uphold your principle of telling the truth howsoever unpleasant it may be," the paper wrote in an obituary.
The murder has been condemned by both Pakistani and Indian leaders who hailed Bukhari as a fearless and courageous journalist.
In Muzaffarabad, some 250 protesters gathered outside the Central Press Club and demanded an independent investigation into Bukhari's death.
Uzair Ahmed Ghazali, chairman of Pasbaan-e-Huriat, a representative group of refugees from occupied Kashmir, said Bukhari was killed because of his contributions to the UN report on Kashmir.
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There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack but journalists have regularly faced intimidation and attacks by militant groups and government forces for their coverage of the dispute.
At least a dozen journalists have been killed in the nearly 30 years of the conflict in the restive region.
The string of killings began at the peak of the armed insurgency in the early 1990s when the head of a state television station was shot dead allegedly by militants.
Another newspaper editor was killed in 1991, followed by the 1995 bombing of a BBC correspondent's office that also left an AFP photojournalist dead.
A video journalist with a local cable TV channel was shot dead by government forces in 2008 and a photojournalist lost both his eyes after police fired shotgun pellets at him while he was covering anti-India protests in 2016.
Most of the murders remain unsolved.
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