Thirteen people, including eight policemen, three civilians and two militants, were killed in separate clashes and shootouts in the past 24 hours.
One soldier was killed near the Line of Control (LoC).
Six policemen, including Station House Officer Feroz Ahmad Dar, were killed when a large group of armed militants ambushed the vehicle they were travelling in near Thajiwar area of Achabal, Anantnag late on Friday afternoon.
“A grenade was hurled first. All travelling in the vehicle faced indiscriminate firing from all sides. Most of them died on the spot,” said a police official. Two civilians were also injured. The Lashkar-e-Taiba has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Earlier in the day, security forces engaged a group of LeT militants in a gunfight in Anantnag’s Arwani area around 10 a.m., sparking violent protests from locals.
The police believe two militants, including Lashkare-Taiba commander Junaid Matto and a foreign militant, were trapped at the encounter site. Two houses were completely damaged during the gunfight. Matto was caught in CCTV footage after he killed two policemen near the busy Anantnag bus stand in June 2016.
“A search operation is on to retrieve the bodies of the militants,” said Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Range, Munir Khan.
Two civilians, identified as Ahsan Dar, 14, and Mohammad Ashraf Khar, were killed when the security forces allegedly opened fire to disperse the mob converging on the encounter site in a bid to help the militants to escape. Two more civilians also sustained bullet injuries.
Another civilian, Naseer Ahmad, a resident of Bandipora, who was injured in the firing of Shashtra Seema Bal (SSB) in Srinagar’s Rangreth following a stone-pelting incident, also succumbed to his injuries on Friday morning.
Two civilians, travelling in a car, suffered bullet injuries when the Army allegedly opened fire at the barricade erected at Reshipora village in Bandipora.
Targeting of security forces by militants has been growing in Kashmir this month, with around 10 grenade attacks so far.
On Thursday afternoon, militants targeted policemen in Kulgam and Srinagar, killing two of them.
Meanwhile, one soldier, identified as Naikh Bakhtawar Singh, 34, was killed on the LoC in Jammu’s Naushera sector when Pakistani troops, according to the Army, opened fire around 5.15 a.m.
The raging militancy and civilian killings fuelled widespread protests in the Valley. Over 30 protesters were injured in Srinagar, Sopore, Pampore, Pulwama, Kulgam and Bandipora during clashes.
Internet services and inter-state train services were also suspended in south Kashmir.
All varsities have cancelled examinations scheduled for Saturday as the authorities are likely to impose restrictions to contain the protests. Separatists have also called for a shutdown.
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