Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and four others shot dead by assailants

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Bhubaneswar, Aug 23 (UNI) Prominent Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and four others were shot dead by unknown assailants at Jaleshpata Ashrama school on the Kalahandi Phulbani border tonight.

Swami Saraswati, the founder of Chakapada Ashram in Phulbani, has gone to the ashrama when the assailants attacked and opened indiscriminate fire, killing him on the spot, along with four others.

State Director General of Police Gopal Nanda confirmed the news but the identification of four others was yet to be confirmed. He said suspected Naxalites were behind the act and they were verifying it.

Swami Saraswati had recently issued a statement to the press stating that his life was in danger ever since he had levelled allegations against Christian missionaries joining hands with the Maoists in the tribal dominated Phulbani district.

Earlier, an attack on Swami Saraswati in December last had triggered off communal violence in Phulbani, in which houses belonging to both the Hindu and Christian communities and churches were burnt. The violence also claimed three lives prompting the state government to institute a Judicial inquiry.

Swami Saraswati had claimed that at least eight attempts had been made on his life in Kandhmal district during the past few years.

The DGP said senior police officials have rushed to the spot and the Kalahandi-Phulbani border area had been sealed. The police had launched a combing operation to nab the assailants.

It was not immediately known who the assailants were but the VHP leaders alleged that it was a well planned conspiracy by a vested group to eliminate him.

The VHP has called for Phulbani Bandhi tomorrow to protest against the killing. The situation in entire Phulbani was tense and police reinforcements rushed to the district to control the situation.

UNI DP GL VC2335

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