Soldier, four civilians killed in Kashmir’s Kulgam; two militants escape
Kashmiri separatists called for a shutdown on Thursday to protest the deaths of the civilians that included two teenagers.Updated: Apr 11, 2018, 22:42 IST
Two militants escaped from the scene of a gunbattle in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Thursday even as a soldier and four civilians caught in the crossfire were killed, police and army officers said.
The two militants escaped amid intense protests and one of them is probably injured, said a senior state police officer, on condition of anonymity.
Separatists have called for shutdown on Thursday to protest the deaths of the civilians that included two teenagers.
“They were pelting stones while being in the firing arc, with terrorists firing heavily from the other side. It was not an usual law-and-order situation because the forces were on one side of the river Jhelum and the protesters on the other side. They were hit in the crossfire,” the officer quoted above said.
The deaths, coming about a week after 13 militants, four civilians and three soldiers died on a single day, left the Valley tense with authorities suspending high-speed internet in several areas, including Srinagar.
Cordon and search operations were launched in Kulgam after inputs of militant presence in the Khudwani area, a police spokesperson said early this morning. Search operations were continuing Wednesday evening.
The slain soldier, Sada Gunakara Rao (24) was hit by bullets during the operation, Srinagar-based defence spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia said. He was from Andhra Pradesh and had joined the army in 2012, Kalia said.
A police spokesperson identified three of the dead civilians as 28-year-old Sharjeel Ahmed Sheikh of Khudwani and Bilal Ahmed Tantray of Frisal and Faisal Ilahi of Melhoora, Shopian, both around 16 years old. The fourth civilian was identified as Aijaz Ahmed Palla from Bijbehara in Anantnag, said to be around 30 years old.
The police spokesperson said that 12 people were injured in the crossfire and were being treated at different hospitals. However, data available from hospitals in south Kashmir’s Anantnag and Kulgam districts reveal that over 60 protesters were injured.
Protesters took to the streets across the Valley, including several educational institutes. Several areas in the restive south Kashmir region saw a spontaneous shutdown. Educational institutions in Kulgam were closed over fears about a deterioration in law and order.