Armed security forces launched co-ordinated operations in separate areas of South Kashmir on Sunday killing 12 militants, 3 soldiers and 4 civilians. The first gunfight erupted early morning in Dragad village of Kashmir. Seven militants were killed in this attack. Separate encounter operations were also carried out in Kachidoora, Shoipan and Anantnag districts.

Following the attacks in Dragad and Kachidoora, hundreds of civilians began marching towards the gunfight sites. Four civilians were killed and over 100 were injured due to these clashes. Three of the civilians died during the protests in Kachidoora, while the fourth one was killed in Dragad. Three army jawans were also martyred in the attacks.

“We caught one militant alive and one was killed, in Anantnag. Two army jawans lost their lives in the ongoing operation. Few J&K police, CRPF, and Army personnel have suffered injuries,” said SP Vaid, Deputy General of Police, Jammu & Kashmir. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also expressed grief over the death of civilians and offered sympathy for the injured.

A house is engulfed in flames during the encounteres

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Who were the militants killed in South Kashmir?

The three militants killed in Kachidoora are yet to be identified. However, the police have been able to establish the identities of the remaining terrorists. The seven militants killed in Dragad have been identified as locals. Two of them, Rayees Thokar and Ishfaq Malik belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen group. They were responsible for the abduction and murder of Lt. Fayyaz last year.

Zubain Turray, another slain terrorist was involved in the murder of an SHO and a BJP leader. Some of the terrorists also belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba group. Some of the militants’ dead bodies have been identified by their next of kin.

The aftermath

Following the encounters, massive protest erupted in several parts of South Kashmir as well as Srinagar. Many civilians also gathered at funerals of slain militants, leading to more clashes in Shoipan. Locals alleged that the armed forces used “indiscriminate forces” against the protesters. As a result, four people were killed hundreds of civilians were injured. Officials have confirmed that most of the injured are receiving treatment in Shoipan and Kulgam. Those with critical injuries have been transferred to a medical facility in Srinagar.

Following the protests, Internet connectivity has been suspended in many areas of South Kashmir and parts of Srinagar. All schools have also been directed to remain shut. Examinations of Kashmir University scheduled for April 2 have been cancelled. Railway services in the area have also been discontinued for a while.