Hindu Leader, 12 Others Killed in Punjab
AMRITSAR, India (AP) _ Suspected Sikh terrorists shot and killed 10 Hindus walking in a park in Punjab state and assassinated a Hindu politician was in his home today, police said.
Two other people were shot and killed in separate attacks Thursday, police said.
The latest slayings bring to 99 the number of deaths blamed on Sikh militants this year in Punjab, where separatists are fighting for an independent Sikh homeland. More than 1,000 people were killed last year.
In the park in Barnala, six Sikh gunmen riding three motor scooters opened fire on morning walkers, police chief Paramjeet Singh Sondhi said in a telephone interview. He said they used AK-47 assault rifles.
Six of the victims died on the spot and four died in a hospital. They were between 22 and 30 years old.
A group called The Khalistan Commando Force claimed responsibility for the killings. A note left behind by the assassins said the killings were in retaliation for the killing of Sikhs by police.
Militant Sikhs accuse police in Punjab of killing Sikh youths after arresting them. But police say most of the deaths occur in armed encounters.
The vice president of the local Bharatiya Janata party, Khushi Ram Sharma, was shot at his home in Ludhiana this morning, the area police chief said.
″The assassins used revolvers and shot Mr. Sharma in the head,″ A.P. Pandey said by telephone. Sharma was 52.
Also killed was a Hindu trader, who was shot and killed in Amritsar Thursday night. Another unidentified man was killed by suspected Sikh militants in Gurdaspur district Thursday night, police said.
Militant Sikhs claims they are discriminated against by Hindus, who form a majority of India’s 780 million people.
Sikhs are 2 percent of the national population, but they are a majority in the rich farming state of Punjab.