South Asia

Jailed Nepal TV chief Mohammed Ansari 'shot by hitman'

Charles Sobhraj
Image caption Reports say the gunman had been visiting notorious criminal Charles Sobhraj

Police in Nepal are investigating how an Indian "hitman" walked into a jail and shot the former head of a Nepali TV station being held there.

Mohammed Yunus Ansari was wounded in the shoulder and is reported to be in a stable condition. The gunman was arrested at the scene.

Mr Ansari is being held on suspicion of drug trafficking and counterfeiting.

The shooting happened on Thursday at the heavily guarded Central Prison in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

The gunman has been named as Jasjeet Singh from India's Punjab province. He is reported to have walked into the jail entered the visitors' area and attempted to kill Mr Ansari in front of the guards.

"Singh hid the revolver in the crotch of his trousers," police commissioner, Arjun Jung Shahi told the BBC's Joanna Jolly in Kathmandu.

He had been scanned with a metal detector and manually searched yet he managed to get through with a gun.

"He approached the place where visitors are and fired, but his gun didn't work. He tried to fire three times. Then a duty constable grabbed him and pushed his hand to one side so his next bullet only hit Ansari in the shoulder," Mr Shahi said.

After he was arrested, the gunman told police that he was promised 1.5 million Indian rupees (US$33,152; £20,700) to assassinate Mr Ansari. He said he was paid half the money in advance.

Police say they are searching for two accomplices, believed to be Indian nationals.

Sobhraj link

Police say that the gunman gained access to the prison on the pretext of meeting the notorious criminal Charles Sobhraj.

The gunman had been visiting Sobhraj in prison for a few weeks, allegedly to monitor the routine of Mr Ansari.

"We have suspended the three police officers who let Singh into the jail because they didn't do the duties they were assigned to do," Mr Shahi said.

"We are investigating whether Sobhraj has a link to this incident."

Sobhraj is in jail over the murder of an American backpacker in Nepal. Known as the "bikini killer", he is also wanted in a number of Asian countries in connection with the murders of more than 20 Western backpackers during the 1970s.

The BBC's Joanna Jolly in Kathmandu says this shooting is an indication how freely criminal gangs operate in Nepal.

It follows an incident last year when media tycoon, Jamin Shah, was shot dead in a Kathmandu street in the middle of the day.

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