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Suspected Sikh extremists slay editor

NEW DELHI, India -- Suspected Sikh extremists Saturday shot and killed a Hindu newspaper editor, bringing to 192 the number of people who have died in religious violence over the past 11 weeks in and around the state of Punjab, police said.

Ramesh Chandra Chopra, editor of the Hindi Samachar group of newspapers and a strong critic of Sikh terrorism, was gunned down in Jalandhar, 200 miles northwest of New Delhi, police said.

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Police said the motive behind the killing was not immediately known, but it was not the first attack on journalists in the troubled state, where Sikh extremists have been waging a violent campaign for political and economic autonomy.

Chopra's father, Lala Jagat Narain, who was also editor of the Hindi Samachar newspaper group, was shot and killed by Sikh terrorists in Punjab in September, 1981.

Earlier this year, Summan Singh, a Sikh editor of a Punjabi language magazine that advocated Hindu-Sikh unity, was shot and killed by Sikh terrorists.

The latest death brought to 192 the number of people killed by Sikh terrorism, Hindu-Sikh clashes and police gunfire in Punjab and neighboring areas of northern India over the past 11 weeks.

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Police, meanwhile, said a truck that was stopped as it left the Golden Temple in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar contained the largest cache of illegal arms ever found in the possession 'of Sikh terrorists.'

Punjab Inspector General Pritam Singh Bhinder told reporters in Amritsar, 250 miles northwest of New Delhi, that paramilitary Central Reserve Police (CRP) intercepted the truck as it emerged from a 'place of worship.'

He did not identify the 'place of worship,' but sources said it was the Golden Temple, the Sikh's holiest shrine.

Bhinder said the truck driver ignored signals from CRP men to stop and tried to speed away. CRP personnel fired at the tires, deflating them and halting the truck. The driver and three Sikh youths fled.

The CRP unit found three rifles, two submachine guns, one revolver, 20 hand grenades and 700 rounds of ammunitions inside the vehicle, he said.

The truck's registration showed it belonged to Jarnail Singh Bhinderale, a Sikh extremist leader who has been blamed for most of the Sikh attacks in Punjab and neighboring areas, Bhinder said.

'The truck was on a mission,' Bhinder said, indicating the arms were intended for delivery to Sikh terrorists.

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