Calamity in Kulgam: 6 civilians killed in blast at encounter site

Calamity in Kulgam: 6 civilians killed in blast at encounter site
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3 local militants killed; govt forces open fire on protestors, 5 hit by bullets

Anantnag: Bloody scenes were witnessed in Laroo village, on the outskirts of Kulgam town, where six civilians were killed in a blast caused by explosives left at the site of an encounter in which government forces killed three local militants on Sunday morning. More than 20 civilians were wounded, five of them with bullets and the rest with pellets, as government forces opened fire at protestors near the encounter site.
The gunfight in Laroo started at around 3:30 AM in the dark of the night, an hour and a half after a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) was launched by government forces in the area.
“The militants were hiding in a residential house and sensing they were trapped, they opened indiscriminate fire at about 3:30 AM,” a local police official told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the fire was duly retaliated by the forces and the gunfight continued for more than six hours before the militants were killed.
“The bodies of the militants, along with arms and ammunition, were retrieved from the site of the encounter,” the official said.
In the process, local sources told Kashmir Reader, the house where militants were holed up was reduced to rubble by use of explosives.
The slain militants were later identified as Shahid ul Islam Tantray of Shopian, Yazil Makroo of Anantnag, and Zubair Lone of Kulgam. Police said that all three were affiliated with the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militant outfit.
As per local sources and eyewitnesses, the government forces left the site of the encounter soon after they retrieved the bodies of the militants.
“They did not sanitise the site before leaving,” a local source told Kashmir Reader.
The civilians watching the encounter rushed towards the site as soon as the forces left the area. “Many of them climbed up the rubble of the house. Then, suddenly, a blast took place. I could see many people getting tossed around,” an eyewitness told Kashmir Reader.
People rushed at least 7 injured from the site to the Kulgam district hospital, where three of them were declared brought dead.
“The rest were referred to Srinagar for specialised treatment,” a doctor at Kulgam district hospital told Kashmir Reader.
Later in the day, authorities at SMHS hospital in Srinagar declared two of the injured dead.
“Both of them had injuries inflicted due to a blast,” Medical Superintendent (MS) of SMHS hospital, Dr Saleem Tak, told Kashmir Reader over phone.
He said that another person with a head injury, who was referred to SKIMS from SMHS, was declared brought dead at SKIMS hospital, raising the death toll to six.
The slain civilians have been identified as Irshad Ahmad Padder and Zubair Ahmad Lone of Shurat village of Kulgam, Talib Maqbool Laway and Mansoor Ahmad Dar of Laroo Kulgam, Uzair Ahmad Dar of Reshipora, Kulgam and Aqib Ahmad Sheikh of Makenpora, Kulgam.
The bodies of the slain were reaching Kulgam one after another during the day. At least three funerals, attended by thousands, were already held while this report was being filed. Preparations were being made for the other three.
Despite a communication clampdown imposed by the authorities, thousands thronged the native villages of the slain civilians.
Earlier in the day, more than 20 people were injured, five with bullets and the others with pellets, as government forces fired at people trying to march towards the encounter site.
The injured were taken to Kulgam and Anantnag district hospitals. At least ten of them were referred to different Srinagar hospitals, four of them with bullet wounds.
The clashes and protests took place despite the authorities clamping down both mobile and broadband internet services across Kulgam district.
Also, by government forces did not allow announcements to be made from local mosques.
Later in the day, the bodies of the militants were handed over to their families. Funerals were being carried out while this story was being filed. In Wangam village of Shopian, militants appeared at the funeral of Shahid-ul-Islam and offered a gun salute to the slain.