South Kashmir bleeds: Bullets ‘miss’ militants, kill 4 civilians in Kulgam
Srinagar: Four civilians were killed and around four dozen people injured as protesters clashed with security personnel in Kulgam district of south Kashmir on Wednesday while an encounter was on with militants that left one soldier dead and two others wounded, police said.
As the news of civilian deaths spread, protests broke out in several areas of north Kashmir including Baramulla, Bandipora and Sopore towns and several security personnel including the station house officer of Baramulla were injured in stone-pelting by protestors, the police official added.
Pertinently, security forces had launched a cordon and search operation in Khudwani area of the district during the night following information about presence of militants there, the official said.
Three soldiers were injured in the initial exchange of fire with the militants out of which Sapper Sada Gunakara Rao (24), a resident of Andhra Pradesh, succumbed to injuries at 92 Base hospital of the Army here.
A group of people from Khudwani and adjoining areas started pelting stones on security personnel during the encounter today in order to facilitate the escape of the ultras, the official said, adding around 48 civilians were injured in the ensuing violence, four of whom died.
“Four civilians died in the law and order situation that erupted in Khudwani area of Kulgam district when security forces were engaged in a counter-terrorism operation,” the official said.
The deceased youths were identified as Sarjeel Ahmad (25), Bilal Ahmad Tantray (16) and Faisal Ilahi (14). Aijaz Ahmad Palla (30).
The condition of the other injured persons is stated to be stable, he said.
The police official said that the gun battle broke out between the militants and security forces in the early hours on Wednesday.
“Late last night after the joint team of army’s 1 RR, SOG and CRPF launched the cordon following inputs about the presence of some militants the search operation was put on hold owing to darkness in the area,” a police official said.
Meanwhile, police and army officials maintain that the search operation was in progress, sources said the security forces withdrew from the area following intense clashes.
The sources said two to three militants managed to escape from the cordoned area.
Sources said that the militants three in number escaped the cordon and fired some shots in air while doing so. Reports, however, unconfirmed said that one militant has been injured during the encounter, however, he too managed to flee from the area.
Meanwhile, a house was damaged completely during the encounter while as another suffered partial damage while as two had minor damages.