Two civillians and two militants were killed in a firefight with security forces in Pulwama district of South Kashmir on Thursday that brought hundreds of local villagers out onto the streets in defiance of police orders.
Police said that the firefight began after soldiers and police cordoned off a village outside the main city of Srinagar early Thursday, believing that two suspected militants were hiding out there.
Both died in the firefight, which also killed a 15-year-old student hit by a stray bullet, and another civilian.
“Two militants were killed in the encounter. Both were locals and belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba group,” police said.
Soon after the encounter begun clashes broke out between local residents and forces in Padgampora village of Awantipora.
The village was cordoned off following reports about presence of militants there.During the encounter, officials said a two militants were killed. Security forces had brought the family of the militant, believed to be a local, to the site and used public address system to convince him to surrender.
Meanwhile, as soon as the news of encounter spread in the area, locals and people from adjoining villages marched to the encounter site and started pelting stones at the forces, apparently to divert their attention and help the militants in escaping.
During violent clashes between security forces and protesters, who tried to break the cordon around the encounter, site two civillians were hit by firearms. They were taken to a local hospital where doctors declared them brought dead.
Officials said nearly half dozen protesters have suffered injuries in the ongoing clashes.
Amid pro-freedom and anti-India sloganeering, the body of the one slain boy was taken to his native home and preparations are underway to hold his funeral prayers. Authorities have imposed curfew-like restrictions in the area to prevent deterioration of law and order situation.
The trend of local youths coming to the rescue of militants trapped in encounters with government forces has been seen increasing after the killing of Burhan Wani last year along with his two associates.
Recently, the Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat also warned protesters to stay away from encounters sites, saying they will be treated as “anti-nationals” and “Over Ground Workers” of militants