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Militants in Kashmir's Kulgam encounter identified as Hizbul and LeT operatives

The four militants killed in a gunfight with security forces on Kulgam in south Kashmir on Sunday were locals, police said.

While two belonged to Kashmiri separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, the others were associated with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, they said.

Eight people, including two civilians and an equal number of soldiers, were killed in the gun battle and protests that followed. One of the civilians was a protester while the other was caught in the crossfire.

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

Security forces had cordoned off a house in Kulgam’s Frisal village on Saturday night after they were informed of militants’ presence. The gunfight started after militants opened fire early on Sunday, police said, adding three of them managed to escape.

The two slain soldiers – Raghubeer Singh of Uttarakhand and Bhandoriya Gopal Singh of Gujarat – belonged to 1st Rashtriya Rifles.

Locals said thousands of people, chanting pro-freedom slogans, participated in the funeral of the militants and the two civilians. Militants in Redwani Qaimoh even offered gun salute to the four associates, local news portals quoted eyewitnesses as saying.

At least 21 protesters were injured when police used bullets, pellets and tear gas shells to disperse demonstrators.

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

“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.”

Shafi said the number of injured couldn’t be ascertained as many had not provided their details and left for their homes fearing police action.

Many of the injured sent to Anantnag were hit by bullets and pellets. Those who suffered injuries to their vital organs were referred to medical institutions in Srinagar.

Source: HindustanTimes