Unidentified gunmen on Thursday looted a branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Shopian district and fled with more than Rs 2 lakh, reported ANI. The incident took place in the Turkewangam branch of the bank.

When security personnel reached the spot, locals reportedly started pelting stones at them, according to Kashmir Reader. The protestors held that the incident was an attempt to “malign the militants”. The personnel had to resort to teargas shelling to disperse the crowd, the news report said.

Army Chief Bipin Rawat had recently said that the militants in the region had widespread local support, who were helping them flee during encounters with security forces. His statement was on Thursday supported by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju. “What Army chief said is in national interest, anybody who acts against it will be treated as someone who has not done his duty,” Rijiju told ANI.

This is the fourth branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank that has been robbed since November. The first attack was reported at a branch in Malpora district on November 22, only days the Centre demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Two branches of the bank in Pulwama district were looted in December.