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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2006, 06:28 GMT
Hindu seer gunned down in India
A Hindu religious leader and seven of his followers have been shot dead in northern India, say police.

A convoy of cars carrying Swami Sant Gyaneshwar was ambushed near the city of Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh state.

The seer was killed instantly. It was not immediately known who carried out the attack.

Media reports in India say Gyaneshwar was wanted in connection with 16 criminal cases, including the murders of three local officials.

He was returning to his ashram near the Hindu holy city of Varanasi late on Friday when the attack took place.

"The killers used sophisticated weapons, including an AK-47, in the operation," said police spokesman Surendra Srivastava in Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh state.

"The attack was so sudden that the seer and his disciples were taken by surprise," he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

Five people were injured in the attack and taken to hospital near Allahabad. Three were said to be in a serious condition.

Mr Srivastava said police would question people living near the scene of the shooting, as well as residents of Gyaneshwar's ashram.

A senior state official was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying Gyaneshwar had been wanted in connection with the killing of a district magistrate, a regional politician and a local government official.


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