Photojournalist killed in crossfire in Kashmir

New York, May 12, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists mourned the killing of photojournalist Ashok Sodhi in crossfire Sunday in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Sodhi, a photographer for local English-language Daily Excelsior, was killed when suspected militants exchanged fire with security forces from a house where they held several hostages, in Samba district near the border with Pakistan, according to the BBC. Three militants, one soldier, and three other civilians were killed in the gun battle, which lasted several hours, the BBC reported.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Ashok Sodhi while reporting in Kashmir, and send condolences to his family and colleagues,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “This is a sad reminder that journalists remain at risk in this volatile region.”

Sunday’s violence was the worst reported since 2002, according to local news reports. Police said militants crossing the border from Pakistan were suspected in the attack, according to the reports.

Separatist groups disputing Indian rule of Kashmir have led an often-violent insurgency for nearly two decades in the quest for independence or union with Pakistan. Twelve journalists, including Sodhi, have been killed in the region since the conflict escalated into civil war in 1989, CPJ research shows.