Highlights At least seven civilians were killed and nearly two dozens injured in firing by security forces in J&K’s Pulwama
Earlier in the day, a security personnel was killed and three terrorists were gunned down following an encounter in the district Seven civilians were killed when security forces allegedly opened fire to disperse an unruly crowd that had gathered near the site of an encounter in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday, police said.
Three terrorists and an Army man were also killed in the gunfight, they said.
The incident took place at Sirnoo village in the morning when the security forces laid siege to a locality based on intelligence reports about the presence of three terrorists, including an Army deserter — Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, in the area, police officials said.
As soon as the news about Thoker being trapped in an encounter spread, people started thronging the encounter site as the army deserter belonged to the same village, they said.
Though the encounter ended in 25 minutes with the killing of the three terrorists, the security forces had a tough time as people started climbing onto Army vehicles, the officials said.
They said warning shots were fired but that did not deter the mob, forcing the security forces to open fire at the civilians.
Seven civilians were killed and dozens others injured, including a youth who’s condition was stated to be critical.
Thoker had gone missing from an Army unit in the Gantmulla area of north kashmir’s Baramulla district in July last year.
He had decamped with his service rifle and three magazines and had joined the militant ranks.
The security forces said Thoker was involved in several killings in Pullman district.
The identities of two other terrorists was being ascertained.
The officials said an army jawan lost his life in the gunfight, while two other soldiers were critical.
Authorities have snapped mobile internet facility in entire south Kashmir comprising four districts.
Condemning the killing of the civilians, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Another blood-soaked weekend in Kashmir. 6 protestors killed, 1 solider killed in the line of duty. Together with the 3 militants from this morning’s encounter that’s 10 dead. Reports of many injured at the encounter site. What a horrible day! (sic)”
“Six civilians killed and numerous more injured, many critically. 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 added.
Abdullah also lashed out at governor Satya Pal Malik for failing to protect the lives of civilians.
The former chief minister of the state, Mehbooba Mufti, too, questioned the credibility of the governor’s rule in the state as she extended her condolences to the bereaved family members.
Former DGP Shesh Paul Vaid expressed his anguish at the killings of the civilians.
“Anguished at the loss of lives of civilians in an encounter in Pulwama. Continued instigation by terrorists and their masters across, for the civilians to reach the encounter site and disrupt the operation by stone pelting leads to loss of precious lives. Terrible,” Vaid said.