Six people killed in fresh Kashmir shoot-outs
Two policemen and a six-year-old boy were among six people killed in a fresh surge of violence in Kashmir.india Updated: Jul 19, 2006 15:38 IST
Two policemen and a six-year-old boy were among six people killed in a fresh surge of violence in Kashmir that also saw a bloody shooting near a revered shrine, police said on Wednesday.
"A Sikh policeman posted near the shrine of Hazratbal was shot dead from point blank by suspected terrorists," a spokesman said.
None of the dozen rebel groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir claimed responsibility for the shooting that sparked panic near the Hazratbal mosque in the summer capital Srinagar. It houses a whisker which Muslims believe comes from the Prophet Mohammed's beard.
The relic is shown to devotees on important days of the Islamic calander and was scheduled to be displayed on Wednesday, the anniversary of the death of an early disciple of the Prophet.
"Devotees had started arriving as the shooting broke out," said a witness Abdul Saboor.
Hazratbal has witnessed two army sieges in the past. One ended when rebels were given safe passage minus weapons but another ended with the death of more than two dozen rebels.
In Srinagar's Soura locality, four kilometers (2.5 miles) from Hazratbal, another policeman was killed by suspected rebels in an identical point-blank shooting, police said.
A six-year-old Muslim boy, Mohammed Asif, died early on Wednesday when he was caught in crossfire during a gunbattle between terrorists and security forces in the southern district of Udhampur, the spokesman said.
He said a Muslim man was killed by suspected rebels in the same district after being abducted from his house.
Indian troops shot dead two terrorists in the districts of Pulwama and Poonch on Wednesday, police said, adding a soldier was wounded during one of these gunbattles.
Kashmir is in the grip of a 17-year insurgency that has left more than 44,000 people dead, by official count.
The Himalayan region remains divided and bitterly disputed between Pakistan and India. New Delhi says Pakistan arms the terrorists, a claim denied by Islamabad.