Three of the 11 abducted relatives of police personnel were released on Friday, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police SP Vaid said. Two of them were released from Kulgam and one from Pulwama, ANI reported.

Suspected militants had abducted 11 relatives of police personnel in Jammu and Kashmir over the last three days, IANS reported on Friday. An unidentified official said the militants “raided” the houses in four districts of South Kashmir – Shopian, Kulgam, Pulwama and Anantnag – on Thursday evening and abducted policemen’s “sons and brothers”.

The release came just hours after the police released Asadullah Naikoo, the father of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Riyaz Naikoo. He was among five people detained in Awantipora on Wednesday. A senior police official confirmed the release to Greater Kashmir.

Later, Riyaz Naikoo claimed responsibility for the abductions, reported PTI. In an audio clip on social media, he demanded that the police release all relatives of militants within three days. “We did not want to involve your families in this,” he said. “We picked up your relatives so that you realise what [our] mothers go through when you arrest their innocent kin.”

He said: “We have set them free with full dignity this time but next time it will not be repeated... we will act according to how you act.”

The police have yet to confirm the authenticity of the clip.

Mohammad Shafi Mir, whose brother is posted in Srinagar, was abducted from Naman village in Pulwama district’s Kakpora. “A search operation has been launched to trace the policeman’s brother,” a police officer told Kashmir Reader.

Among those reportedly abducted include Nasir Ahmad Mir from Midoora village of Tral in Pulwama. Mir is the son of policeman Ghulam Hassan, who is posted in Anantnag district’s Manigam. Two other relatives of policemen were abducted from Yamrach and Arwani areas in Kulgam. More details are awaited on the other people who were abducted.

The abductions came a day after suspected militants shot dead four police personnel in Shopian district on Wednesday. On the same day, security forces killed top Hizbul Mujahedeen commander Altaf Kachroo and his associate in bordering Anantnag. The National Investigation Agency on Thursday arrested one of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin’s sons in Srinagar in connection with a terror funding case.

“This seems to be [in] retaliation against the arrest of militants’ relatives,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express. “This is aimed at pressuring the police force.”