Authorities in Indian Kashmir say gunmen have assassinated a senior Muslim separatist leader in the disputed territory.
Police say Abdul Majid Dar was gunned down today (Sunday) while getting out of his car in Sopore, 50 kilometers north of Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state. Mr. Dar's mother and sister were also injured in the attack, which occurred at his brother's home.
News media in Srinagar said two separatist groups claimed responsibility for the murder -- the Save Kashmir Movement and Al Nasireen.
Mr. Dar had been a top commander of the front-line Kashmir rebel group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, which seeks the region's merger with Pakistan. He was expelled from the group six months ago, in a dispute with its Pakistan-based supreme commander (Syed Salahudin), but later was named chief of Hizb-ul operations in Sopore, his home region.
More than a dozen Islamic militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence, or its merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan claim the territory in its entirety, and have fought three wars over it.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Islamic militants to fight New Delhi's rule in Kashmir. Pakistan denies the charge, saying it only supports the rebels' cause and does not give them any material aid.
More than 37-thousand people are believed to have been killed since the outbreak of Islamic militancy in 1989.