Two civilians were killed when protesters tried to disrupt a cordon and search operation in south Kashmir’s Arwani village. Two militants, including a top local Lashkar-e-Toiba commander, are believed to be killed in the operation that was still in progress at the time of going to press. Forces were trying to retrieve bodies of the slain militants from under the debris of damaged houses.
Earlier in the day, two civilians were injured in Checkrishipora area of Bandipora town when personnel of the 14 Rashtriya Rifles fired at a car that did not stop near a checkpoint. The two were identified as Fayaz Ahmed and Muzaffar Jan of Qazipora.
At Arwani village of Anantnag district, a joint team of Special Operation Group of the J&K Police, Army and CRPF launched a search operation, acting on specific information about the presence of militants.
Officials said two or three militants were holed up in a house when forces used IEDs to raze a building. Locals said that eight to nine houses were damaged in the operation.
Officials said they had information about the presence of Lashkar commander Junaid Mattoo, who was involved in a rifle snatching incident in Anantnag town in 2016, in a house. He is believed to be among the two militants killed in the operation.
Meanwhile, as the searches were in progress, villagers assembled and tried to disrupt the operation. Police and CRPF used teargas, pellets and bullets to disperse the protesters who resorted to stone pelting. In the clash, Mohammad Ashraf (22) of Kharpora village suffered a bullet injury and died on the spot, locals said. Ahsan Dar, a Class V student from Shamuspora village, also died of a bullet injury. “More than 10 people were brought to the hospital, five with multiple bullet injuries,’’ an official said.
The J&K government snapped 3G and 4G services in south Kashmir and stopped train services, fearing further protests.