While police said the civilians were killed when they came “dangerously close” to the site of the encounter, eyewitnesses said they were killed more than an hour after the gunfight. At least 23 other civilians are reported to have been injured.
The student is the second militant to return to the mainstream after appeals from his family — last year, Majid Khan, a budding footballer-turned-militant, quit the Lashkar-e-Taiba and returned home after his mother’s appeal.
Sources said Baig’s move is also meant to pre-empt moves afoot in the PDP, NC and the Congress to come together and stake claim to form the government in the state which is under Governor’s Rule since the BJP-PDP alliance came unstuck.
A statement by the joint separatist leadership, comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Yasin Malik, blamed the government for killing and called for a complete shutdown in the Valley on Thursday.