Srinagar, Apr 11 (PTI) Four civilians were killed and 20 injured as protesters clashed with security personnel in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir today while an encounter was on with militants that left one soldier dead and two others wounded, police said.
As the news of civilian deaths spread, protests broke out in several areas of north Kashmir including Baramulla, Bandipora and Sopore towns and several security personnel including the station house officer of Baramulla were injured in stone-pelting by protestors, a police official said.
Security forces had launched a cordon and search operation in Khudwani area of the district during the night following information about presence of militants there, the official said. Three soldiers were injured in the initial exchange of fire with the militants out of which Sapper Sada Gunakara Rao (24), a resident of Andhra Pradesh, succumbed to injuries at 92 Base hospital of the Army here.
A group of people from Khudwani and adjoining areas started pelting stones on security personnel during the encounter today in order to facilitate the escape of the ultras, the official said, adding 24 civilians were injured in the ensuing violence, four of whom died.
“Four civilians died in the law and order situation that erupted in Khudwani area of Kulgam district when security forces were engaged in a counter-terrorism operation,” the official said.
Three of the deceased youths were identified as Sarjeel Ahmad (25), Bilal Ahmad Tantray (16) and Faisal Ilahi (14).
The condition of the other injured persons is stated to be stable, he said.
The police official said that the gunbattle broke out between the militants and security forces in the early hours today.
While police and army officials maintain that the search operation was in progress, sources said the security forces withdrew following the clashes.
The sources said two to three militants managed to escape from the cordoned area.
Meanwhile, separatists under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) have called for a general strike tomorrow against the civilian deaths.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.