Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Indian soldier, two civilians killed in Kashmir gunfight

Security forces in Kashmir Security forces deployed in Srinagar | AFP
Melinda Barton | 12 April, 2018, 03:59

At least one Army jawan and three civilians were killed in an encounter in South Kashmir's Kulgam district on Wednesday.

A stone-throwing mob attacking security forces to help militants flee is a new normal in Kashmir but police sources said what happened on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday was unparalleled in scale.

A police spokesperson confirmed early morning that a cordon and search operation was launched in Kulgam after input of militant presence in the Khudwani area. The security personnel opened fire.

Sarjeel Ahmad (25), Faisal Ilahi (14) and Bilal Ahamad Tantray (16) succumbed to injuries at a hospital, they said.

While the firefight was underway, surging crowds made repeated attempts to reach the encounter site and clashed with the security forces, officials said. Rao, who is survived by his parents, had joined the Army in 2012, a defence spokesman here said.

Eyewitnesses said that two militants were rescued alive by locals from the encounter site, minutes after which they reappeared on a motorbike.

With today's incident, the toll of civilian killings has mounted to nine at the hands of government forces, apart from two civilians killed by unknown gunmen in Hajin area from the beginning of this month. The civilians flouted the advisory by the security forces which asked people to stay indoors at the time of an encounter between terrorists and security forces.

The Chief Minister said there is an urgent need to get together to get Jammu & Kashmir out of this vicious cycle of violence and killings.

However the police in a statement said that the civilians were killed in 'crossfire'.

As the fighting raged, people poured out of their homes and pelted stones at the security forces even as two-to-three militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) reportedly remained holed up inside the house.

As the gun-battle is raging, authorities have suspended mobile internet services in Kulgam district to prevent any law and order problems.

Soon after the news spread in the Valley, students in many colleges and universities across held a protest demonstration on their campuses against the killings of four civilians in Khudwani village of Kulgam district. The separatist Joint Resistance Forum has called a Kashmir bandh on Thursday.