Violence rocks Kashmir: 6 policemen shot dead in LeT ambush, 2 civilians killed in clashes with securitymen
Six cops were killed as militants ambushed a police vehicle in Kashmir. Two civilians were killed and many injured in clashes during a gunbattle between LeT men and security forces.india Updated: Jun 17, 2017 07:40 IST
Separate incidents in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday killed at least 11 people -- six police officers, a soldier, two civilians and two suspected militants -- authorities said, as violence in the troubled region spikes.
Suspected militants ambushed a police patrol in the town of Achhabal, killing five police personnel, a top police official said.
Militants have stepped up attacks in recent weeks on government forces patrolling the area as counter-insurgency operations intensify.
Militants ambushed the police party on the outskirts of Anantnag district of south Kashmir, believed to be the hotbed of new-age militancy in the state. The policemen retaliated but could not break the trap laid for them.
The militants overpowered them, then fatally shot them in their faces from a close range and escaped with their weapons. A Station House Officer of Achhabal area was among the victims of the attack.
“It is an unfortunate incident to have lost six men including sub inspector Feroz (Ahmed), a resident of Pulwama. Their contribution to the police service will be remembered,” director general of police SP Vaid said.
Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba claimed responsibility for the attack, police said, adding it seems they wanted to take revenge of the Arwani encounter in which their local commander Junaid Mattoo was believed to have died earlier in the day.
Arwani encounter site is located 20km from the place where the ambush took place.
Earlier, soldiers and a police special counter-insurgency force cordoned off Arwani on a tip off that armed militants were hiding in two homes, triggering a firefight.
Two civilians, including a teenage boy, were killed when security forces fired at hundreds of villagers who marched to the site of the shootout to help the militants escape, he added.
Villagers said soldiers blasted at least two houses with explosives.
As the fighting raged, thousands of people in the village and neighbouring areas ignored the government security lockdown and marched to Arwani in an attempt to help the trapped militants escape. The unrest spread as thousands of residents clashed with government forces, hurling stones and chanting: “We want freedom” and “Go India, go back”.
Two suspected militants were also killed in the shootout, an official said. News agency PTI reported on Friday night the body of a militant had been recovered from the debris in Arwani village.
It is believed that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander, Junaid Mattoo, and his associate were the two militants gunned down in the operation.
Authorities suspended mobile internet services in Kashmir and cellphone service in some areas of southern Kashmir, fearing activists would mobilise anti-India protests in the region. Separatist leaders called for a general strike on Saturday to protest the killings.
Separately on Friday, a soldier was killed when Pakistani soldiers fired at Indian posts in southern Naushera along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between the nuclear-armed rivals, an Indian Army spokesperson said.
The two armies have traded heavy fire along the de-facto border almost daily in recent weeks, killing civilians and soldiers on both sides while accusing each other of breaching a 2003 ceasefire agreement.
Kashmir has been divided between the arch rivals since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, but both claim the Himalayan territory in full.
India maintains roughly 500,000 soldiers in the territory and blames Pakistan for fomenting unrest. Islamabad denies the allegation, saying it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle.