The civilian death toll has reached seven in Kulgam district after another civilian who was injured in a blast at a gunfight site, succumbed to his injuries Sunday late evening.
Javid Ahmad Lone, 35, of Hawoora in Kulgam succumbed to injuries late last evening and his body was kept in the mortuary till he was identified by his family.
South Kashmir’s Kulgam district witnessed a bloodbath on Sunday leaving seven civilians killed after government forces left the gunfight site killing three militants.
The three militants were killed on Sunday morning while seven civilians lost their lives when an explosive device went off at the gunfight site after the operation was over at Laroo, Kulgam.
Earlier, the government forces comprising the Special Operations Group of Police, paramilitary CRPF and 9 RR men of the Army laid a cordon here in the wee hours and conducted house-to-house searches.
Police said during searches the hiding militants fired at the advancing government forces, triggering the five-hour long fierce gun-battle that ended with the killing of three local militants.
The slain militants were identified as, Zubair Ahmed Lone, son of Farooq Ahmad of Awhatoo Kulgam, who was active since 26 April 2018; Shahid-ul-Islam Tantray, son of Abdul Rashid of Sudershanpora, Wangam, Shopian and Yazil Makroo, son of Mushtaq Ahmed of Arwani, Bijbehara, Anantnag.
All the killed militants belonged to Jaish-e-Muhammad militant outfit.
The authorities blocked mobile services including voice calling and internet in Kulgam district as the gunfight raged around 5:30 am.
Later, clashes started near the gunfight site and the government forces fired live bullets and pellets to disperse the protesters.
Seven civilians were killed after one of them stumbled on an unexploded explosive device as locals converged at the gunfight site after the operation was over.
Of the seven slain civilians, three died on way to District Hospital Kulgam while the other three succumbed to injuries at SMHS and SKIMS hospitals.
According to a health official, at least 30 people suffered pellet, firearm and explosive injuries.
Eleven injured civilians were brought to District Hospital Anantnag while the hospital administration sent out frantic calls for blood after which hundreds of locals reached the health facility to provide blood to the injured youth.
Eight of the injured were sent to Srinagar hospitals for specialised treatment.
The slain civilians were identified as Irshad Ahmad Paddar and Zubair Ahmad Lone of Shurat, Kulgam; Talib Maqbool Laway and Mansoor Ahmed Dar of Laroo, Kulgam; Uzair Ahmad Dar of Reshipora, Kulgam and Aqib Ahmad Sheikh of Makenpora, Kulgam.
According to eyewitness, eight youth sustained serious injuries at the gunfight site in the blast.
“From the gunfight site I picked up bodies of youth who may have gone inside to clear the rubble after the government forces left the spot. One of these youth died instantly while two others died on way to District Hospital Kulgam. All of them seemed dead on the spot as the shrapnel had perforated or penetrated their bodies,” an eyewitness said.
Meanwhile, thousands of people coming from far off villages of Kulgam participated in the funeral procession of the two slain militants Zubair Lone and Shahid-ul-Islam while armed militants gave a gun salute to their slain associates.
The funerals were offered multiple times as thousands of people kept on pouring at the native places of the slain militants.
Authorities have imposed restriction in main town Kulgam to prevent protests. Meanwhile, incidents of stone pelting are reported from Khudwani and Qaimoh areas of the district.
Pertinently, mobile phone service was suspended in Kulgam district after the civilian killings. A complete shutdown is being observed in Kashmir and parts of Chenab Valley over the killings.