Former federal minister shot, wounded in India

Enraged witnesses beat into a coma an assailant who shot and wounded a former federal minister at an election rally for India's main opposition party Thursday in the eastern state of Bihar, officials said.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, India's former information and broadcasting minister, was wounded in his left arm in the shooting, but was "out of danger," said L. K. Advani, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist opposition party.

Prasad served as a minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party government that ruled India between 1998 and 2004.

Thursday's attack occurred in Nokha, a town nearly 125 kilometers (80 miles) west of Patna, Bihar's capital, during a rally ahead of elections in the state, long considered India's most lawless, said Vivek Singh, a district magistrate.

Prasad's supporters caught the alleged assailant and beat him so badly that many eyewitnesses thought he was dead, as official accounts initially claimed. But when he was taken to a nearby hospital, doctors there said he was in a coma.

No further information on his condition or prognosis for recovery was released.

Elections for the state legislature are scheduled to take place over a number of days in October and November. Election campaigns in Bihar have often been married by violence, reports the AP.


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