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June 19, 1998
25 gunned down in Doda district
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Twenty-five Hindus were gunned down by unidentified militants at village Champanari in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir this afternoon.
Six others who were injured in the firing were airlifted to Jammu late this evening. The victims were accompanying two marriage parties when they were attacked.
Police sources said that five female members of the group, including children and the bride, were spared.
Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was informed of the killings on the sets of a Telugu film being shot in the valley.
Police sources said a group of five heavily armed militants separated out the male members of the two groups returning after marriages at Bhagwa and who were waiting at the bus stand at Champanari in Doda district.
Senior district officials, including the senior superintendent of police and the deputy commissioner, rushed to the village along with reinforcements. Top officials said this evening that the army has also moved in to the area and that a massive hunt has been mounted to nab the killers. Though no organisation has claimed responsibility for the killing, official spokesperson K B Jandial claimed the Hizbul Mujaheedin had a hand in the massacre.
The killings have sent shock waves in Doda and adjoining areas. The police said massive searches have been mounted and that Farooq Abdullah this evening had directed security forces "to take every possible measures to capture the killers dead or alive ...who deserve no mercy for their heinous crime."
He strongly condemned the killings and described it as "yet another barbaric act of Pakistan-sponsored militants in Jammu and Kashmir".
The killings have triggered high tension in the entire Jammu region and authorities have sounded a general alert.
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