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Pro-Pak Kashmir leader killed

Sept. 15: Assassins hiding a gun in a file shot dead hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's right hand Peer Hissam-ud-Din in the first attack in recent times on a pro-Pakistan group in Kashmir.

The unusual target ' so far moderates were picked ' has ignited allegations of a 'Delhi hand' but officials blamed a faction feud.

Differences between moderates and hawks had torn the Hurriyat into two camps. Geelani's faction, which supports merger of Kashmir with Pakistan, broke away last year after the moderates agreed to hold talks with the Centre.

Hissam-ud-Din, the secretary of the newly-floated Tehreek Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir and its prime mover, was killed at his Srinagar home at 11.30 am today by assassins masquerading as petitioners.

'Two youths entered his house carrying a file they wanted to show him. The moment he opened the door, they fired a volley from a hidden automatic rifle,' said a relative. He was shot in the head.

A lawyer in his 50s, Hissam-ud-Din was the closest associate of Geelani who was in Delhi today. Geelani is reaching Srinagar tomorrow.

An angry Geelani faction smelt Delhi's involvement and called for a shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir tomorrow. 'Hissam-ud-Din was killed for his political ideology,' a Tehreek spokesperson told PTI.

However, home ministry officials said they suspect the hand of either a group in the Jamaat-e-Islami that had not taken kindly to Hissam-ud-Din's rapport with Geelani or the Majid Dar faction of the Hizb-ul Mujahideen.

The officials said the incident indicated that elements ' militant and otherwise ' who have differences with Geelani had started consolidating.

The murder came a day after the moderate Hurriyat faction accused Geelani of 'petty personal interests in splitting the amalgam'.

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