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Seven Civilians Killed in Army Firing as Protests Break Out After Encounter in Pulwama

A soldier and three militants were killed in the encounter in Sirnoo village, the Army said.

News18.com

Updated:December 15, 2018, 10:39 PM IST
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Srinagar: Seven civilians were killed as clashes broke out between locals and security forces following an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday, triggering tension in the region.

A soldier and three militants were killed in the encounter in Sirnoo village, the Army said.

The security forces launched a cordon and search operation after receiving specific intelligence input about the presence of militants in the area.

The search operation turned into an encounter after the militants opened fire on the security personnel, an Army official said. The identity and group affiliation of the slain ultras was not known yet.

Massive clashes broke out between youths and the security forces in the area following the encounter. The civilians were injured in firing by security forces during clashes that followed the encounter and later succumbed to their injuries.

The deceased have been identified as Liyaqat Dar, Suhail Ahmad, Shahbaaz, Amir Ahmad Paul and Abid Hussain Lone. The body of two youths lying in the hospital is yet to be identified. There are also reports of several more being injured.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah condemned the incident in tweets, calling it “another blood soaked weekend in Kashmir”. “Any way you look at it this was a badly executed encounter. Protests around encounter sites are now the norm not the exception. Why are we unable to learn how to handle them better?” he asked.

The NC leader said the Governor's administration appears "not doing anything on restoring peace" in the "troubled Valley".

PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti also slammed the Governor and said no country can win a war by killing its own people. “No probe enough to bring back the dead innocent civilians. South Kashmir has been reeling under fear for the last 6 months. Is this what was expected from Gov rule? The admin has failed in securing civilian lives. Deepest condolences to the bereaved (sic)," she tweeted.

"How long are we going to shoulder the coffins of our youngsters? So many civilians killed today post encounter in Pulwama. No country can win a war by killing its own people. I strongly condemn these killings, and once again appeal for efforts, to stop this blood bath (sic)," Mufti said in another tweet.

Separatist-turned-mainstream leader and former minister Sajad Lone said the administration needs to "seriously evaluate" the costs of such anti-militancy operations.

"Extremely disturbing news coming from Pulwama. The administration needs to seriously evaluate the costs of its operations. If there is even a remote chance of civilians getting killed during military operations it is better to call off such operations," Lone said in a tweet. He expressed hope that the administration abandons "its Rambo mindset".

Eyewitnesses said those killed had bullet injuries in their head and chest. Clashes also broke out in neighbouring villages after the death of the civilians. Internet services were suspended in Pulwama. Rail services between Kashmir Valley and Bannihal town in Jammu region were also cancelled.

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