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Ex-Indian Army officer kills family, self

SELMA, Calif. - A former major in India’s army wanted in the killing of a human rights lawyer in the disputed Kashmir region shot and killed his wife and two of their children in their California home before apparently committing suicide, authorities said.

Also, a 17-year-old believed to be the man’s son was “barely alive’’ after the attack Saturday morning, Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Curtice said.

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Avtar Singh, 47, a onetime major, had been arrested in this central California city last year after his wife said he choked her, and the Indian government sought his extradition days after that in the 1996 death of Jalil Andrabi.

But he remained free for reasons that were not clear. Andrabi’s brother and lawyer blamed New Delhi, saying Singh’s family would still be alive if the government had tried harder to bring him to justice.

“These lives could have been saved if a trial of Major Avtar Singh was conducted on time,’’ said Andrabi’s brother, Arshad. “We have lost that chance now. He was a known murderer, and we are appalled that he was even shielded in the United States. It’s a failure of justice at all levels.’’

Singh, who owned a trucking company in Selma, called police about 6:15 a.m. Saturday and told them that he had just killed four people, Curtice said.

He added that a sheriff’s SWAT team was called in to assist because of Singh’s military background and the charges against him in India.

When the SWAT team entered the home they found the bodies of Singh, a woman believed to be his wife, and two children, ages 3 and 15, Curtice said.

All appeared to have died from gunshot wounds.

The 17-year-old suffered severe head trauma and underwent surgery. He remained in intensive care Saturday evening, Curtice said.

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