At least seven civilians died and several people were injured in firing by security forces during clashes that followed a gunfight with suspected militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday, NDTV reported.
Three suspected militants and a soldier were killed during the gunfight, ANI reported. The security forces launched a cordon and search operation at the Kharpora Sirnoo area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday based on a tip, a police official said. “The terrorists opened fire on security forces while they were carrying out search operations,” the official said, adding that the forces retaliated, leading to an encounter, which is still underway.
Pulwama Deputy Commissioner GM Dar told Scroll.in: “The situation is full of chaos and confusion. People have taken dead bodies into their possession and we are unable to confirm the exact number of causalities.”
The police said they have arrested one person carrying explosives and an improvised explosive device in Pulwama.
The civilians were identified as Abid Hussain Lone of Kareemabad, Amir Ahmad Palla, of Ashminder village in Pulwama, Shahbaz Ali of Monghama village, Suhail Ahmad of Bellow, Liyaqat Ahmad from Parigam and Murtaza of Prichoo.
Unidentified officials said Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, a former Army soldier who had purportedly deserted the Army in Baramulla with his service rifle, was among the three militants killed, PTI reported. The authorities are trying to ascertain the identity of the other two militants.
Officials have suspended internet services in Pulwama as well as train services between Srinagar and Banihal, according to The Hindustan Times.
Jammu and Kashmir leaders Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah condemned the incidents.
Meanwhile separatist group Joint Resistance Leadership announced a three-day mourning period and protest on December 17 against the civilian killings. “From today onwards for three days mourning and complete protest strike will be observed all across,” separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted.