Balhama gunfight: Third militant’s body recovered, clashes follow

Balhama gunfight: Third militant’s body recovered, clashes follow
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PAMPORE: Clashes erupted between locals and government forces in Balhama and Pantha chowk areas of Srinagar district after the body of a third militant was recovered from the site of Thursday’s gunfight. The body is believed to be of a Pakistani militant, identified as Abu Hamas.
Police said that the body was recovered from the debris of a house that government forces had blasted during the gunfight. “Soon after the search and disposal of explosives was begun at the encounter site, police detected some metal and a charred body,” said an official.
Meanwhile, after news about the recovery of another militant’s body, many youths reached the site and demanded that the body be handed over to locals. The government forces rejected the demand. The youths then began pelting government forces with stones.
“The locals continued to demand the body for burial, while the government forces went berserk and starting firing tear-smoke shells on the protestors,” said an eyewitness, Mohammad Afzal. He said that many youths were injured.
Reports said that while the people were protesting and pelting stones, government forces continued to clear the debris at the site of any explosives and later left the place.
Doctors at Sub-District Hospital Pampore told Kashmir Reader that one youth, whose name they kept anonymous so that he could not be identified by government forces, was admitted to the hospital after being hit by a tear-smoke shell in the abdomen and arm.
The gunfight at Balhama had begun on Thursday afternoon after militants tried to snatch the rifles of policemen guarding Bharatiya Janata Party leader Anwar Khan. Two local militants, Rasiq Nabi Bhat alias Owais of Nowdal, Tral, and Shabir Ahmad Dar of Aghanjipora, Awantipora, were killed in the gunfight.
A complete shutdown was observed in parts of Pulwama and Srinagar for the second consecutive day on Saturday to mourn the killing of the two local militants.
All shops, business establishments, government and private offices were closed in Tral, Awantipora, Balhama and Khanmoh areas and public transport was off the roads.
Eyewitness said that scores of people from various areas of south Kashmir visited the homes of the slain militants in Nowdal and Aghanzpora villages to express solidarity with their family. Hundreds of people also visited the graveyards where they were buried.
The native areas of the slain militants had witnessed massive protests on Friday both before and after their funerals.