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Curfew imposed as Kupwara boils for 2nd day

North Kashmir's Kupwara town remained on a boil for the second consecutive day on Wednesday following the killing of seven militants in a gun battle in a remote forest area two days ago.
By Peerzada Ashiq | Hindustan Times, Srinagar
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2014 07:21 PM IST

North Kashmir's Kupwara town remained on a boil for the second consecutive day on Wednesday following the killing of seven militants in a gun battle in a remote forest area two days ago.


The authorities imposed curfew-like restrictions in parts of Kupwara, more than 100 km north of Srinagar, and deployed additional troops to chase agitating locals.

Strict restrictions were implemented in the district's Lalpora area, which was the epicentre of protests on Tuesday.

The security forces fired tear-gas shells and swung batons to chase stone-pelting protesters at several places to keep protesters at bay.

A spontaneous shutdown was also observed in the town. The authorities said it had to implement Section 144, which bans assembly of more than four people, to maintain law and order in the district.

On Tuesday, three cops and more than half-a-dozen civilians were injured in clashes, in which two police pickets were burnt and several vehicles damaged.

The protesters were demanding identification of those killed in the encounter in the jungles of Dardepora in Lolab area.

A wave of terror struck villagers as the news of the seven killed spread. People were apprehensive that the killed might be civilians who had gone into jungles for hunting or collecting wood.

However, the army said all the killed were foreign militants and their identities were being ascertained. No family has come forward so far to identify anyone among the dead.

The army said these foreign militants were having allegiance with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). The pictures of the dead militants have also been released after public outcry. The army claims to have collected a few blood samples too for DNA testing.

Facing violent protests, police on Tuesday handed over the bodies to local Afqaf, mosque caretakers, for the final rites. Thousands of locals participated in the funeral of these unknown gunmen.

Separatists, including moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and hardline conference chairman Syed Ali Geelani, called for an independent probe in the incident, expressing fears that the encounter was "stage managed". They also demanded identification of the dead.

In the past also, Kupwara has witnessed several encounters that were questioned by the locals. In 2010, the army's claim of killing three militants in Machil area was refuted by the locals, who claimed the young boys were unemployed youth of the area having no connections with militancy.

Court martial proceedings against six army men are on in the case, as police investigations established those killed in Machil were locals.

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