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Swami Gyaneshwar gunned down near Lucknow

Associated Press

Posted: Feb 11, 2006 at 1139 hrs IST

Swami Sadanand Sant Gyaneshwar and seven of his followers were shot and killed by unidentified attackers near Lucknow, police said Saturday.

Five others were injured in the attack by unknown assailants which occurred late Friday near the city of Allahabad, said Surendra Srivastava, a police spokesman in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

"The killers used sophisticated weapons, including an AK-47, in the operation," Srivastava said.

The seer was returning to his ashram near Varanasi, 300 kilometers southeast of Lucknow, when he and his followers were attacked.

"The attack was so sudden that the seer and his disciples were taken by surprise," Srivastava said. Gyaneshwar was killed instantly in the attack.

The injured were in a hospital near Allahabad. Doctors had described the condition of three of the injured as serious, the police official said.

Police were questioning people living near the area where the attack took place and would later speak to residents of Gyaneshwar's ashram, he said.

Gyaneshwar was a popular religious leader with several religious retreats across Uttar Pradesh.

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