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Bloody Sunday: Civilian among 7 killed in Kashmir gunfight

A man was killed in firing by security forces after hundreds of people descended on the streets of Kulgam in south Kashmir and its adjoining areas following the killing of four alleged militants in an encounter on Sunday.

The opposition National Conference has called for a probe into the firing while the separatists have called for a strike on Monday to protest crackdown by the security forces.

Health officials said at least 21 youngsters were injured by bullets, pellets and tear gas shells fired by security forces who were trying to scuttle protests near Frisal in Kulgam, where four militants, two soldiers and a civilian had been killed in an encounter earlier in the day. By the end of the day, the death toll was eight.

The protester killed in the firing was identified as 24-year-old Mushtaq Ibrahim from Sirgufwara. The youth probably died of bullet wounds, said deputy inspector general of south Kashmir SP Pani, adding that the other injured protesters are stable.

Read | One dead, 15 injured as protests erupt after encounter with militants in Kashmir’s Kulgam district

“We have referred at least 21 wounded youth to district hospital Anantnag,” said chief medical officer of Kulgam, Dr Shafi. “Most of them have been operated and are out of danger,” he said.

Dr Shafi said that the total number of injured can’t be ascertained as many of them have not provided their details in the hospitals and left for their homes fearing police action.

Many of the injured referred to Anantnag have been hit by bullets and pellets in their limbs while some have been hit in vital body parts.

Some of the injured people, who were hit in vital areas of their body, have been referred to medical institutions in Srinagar.

Security forces had cordoned off a house where the alleged militants were holed up at Kulgam’s Frisal village on Saturday night before the gunfight began Sunday morning. Police said they were yet to identify how the civilian – who was allegedly taken hostage by the militants – had died. Pani said all the militants were local residents. “We are ascertaining their identities,” he added.

Kashmir witnessed months of unrest after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani in July last year. Over 90 persons lost their lives in the protests that followed.

NC wants probe, separatists call for strike

Jammu and Kashmir’s opposition National Conference condemned the killing of two civilians in Frisal village of Kulgam and demanded an impartial and time-bound probe.

In a statement issued from party headquarters, district president Kulgam and MLA Homshalibugh Abdul Majeed Bhat Larmi lashed out at the forces for resorting to “indiscriminate and brute force”, resulting in death of two civilians and injuries to “scores out of which two have been grievously injured.”

“No amount of apology from administration can bring the two civilians back. They didn’t deserve to die and therefore it is necessary for the government to identify and punish those who are responsible for the killings,” he said.

The MLA ridiculed the recent assurances of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that civilians will be secured in such times.

He asked why the forces were not following the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

“SOP has been confined to papers and rhetoric. It is clear that the forces resorted to indiscriminate use of force and a killing spree,” he said.

Meanwhile, separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik have called for a complete shutdown on Monday. On February 15, they have called for “Kulgam Chalo” to protest the killing of the two civilians.

They said that such “merciless acts will never be tolerated and we are obliged to resent and raise our voice against state sponsored terrorism”.

Source: HindustanTimes