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India 13 May 2008

Photographer killed in clashes in Kashmir

Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the death on 11 May of photographer, Ashok Sodhi, who was covering fierce clashes between security forces and armed militants in Kashmir for the English-language Daily Excelsior.

Ashok Sodhi (CNN-IBN)

Sodhi, 45, was killed by a bullet to the head while covering a military operation aimed at flushing out armed militants who had taken refuge in the town of Samba, 45 kilometres south of Jammu, in Jammu And Kashmir State.

The Jammu-based photographer, was hit while trying to take shots of a house in which fighters were holed up. He reportedly ignored warnings from the security forces as he approached the spot.

“This latest death sadly reminds us of the risks run by representatives of the media in this particularly unstable border region, which is subjected to repeated incursions by armed Islamist militants”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“It remains unacceptable that reporters should be targeted during fighting. The Indian authorities and press owners should do their utmost to guarantee the safety of journalists”, it added.

“I was always telling him to keep out of the way of exchanges of fire and this kind of clash”, his wife told news channel CNN-IBN. “However, he would often say that if he had to die in an encounter, he would.”

The fighting, which lasted several days was the most ferocious for years, during which armed Islamist groups have been regularly crossing the Indian-Pakistani border. The conflict in Kashmir has left more than 60,000 dead in 20 years.

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