sopore massacre 6  jan 1993,kashmir

(Update Jan 6, 2014)

Sopore, Jan 6 (1993): Federal paramilitary police hunting for Muslim militants shot and burned to death at least 40 people and wounded 100 Wednesday in one of the worst massacres in Kashmir, witnesses and state police said.

The troops opened fire indiscriminately in a crowded fruit market a half-hour after two comrades were killed by a land mine planted by Muslim rebels outside Sopore in Jammu-Kashmir state, reports said.

The government said the shooting started when some snipers fired at the troops searching the market. A stray bullet hit an ammunition dump in a house where the militants were hiding and started fires that killed 37 people, a government statement said. It did not give details.

But residents said most of the victims were shot by the soldiers. The police control room in Srinagar, the state capital, confirmed 40 deaths. The differing accounts could not be immediately reconciled.

“The soldiers were out of control,” said Ghulam Mohammd Butt, a fruit merchant. “They were firing in every direction. People were running and falling down.”

Witnesses said soldiers also dragged people from shops and shot them and set businesses and cars on fire.

Federal paramilitary police were sent to northern Jammu-Kashmir state in December 1989 to help put down an Islamic insurgency for a separate nation. The violence has only increased, claiming more than 5,600 lives the past three years.

Troops regularly exchange fire with militants in crowded markets and residential areas of Kashmir towns, often leading to civilian casualties.

Wednesday’s shooting was the worst in Kashmir since May 1990 when troops fired at the funeral procession for a slain Islamic cleric in Srinagar, killing 67 people.

In Sopore, a town known for its apple orchards and fruit markets, the fires set in shops by the troops spread to six neighborhoods, gutting more than 250 stores, 45 houses, a college and three banks, the state police control room said.

Hours after the killings, security forces blocked reporters from entering Sopore.

Basheer Ahmed Lone, a fruit seller who saved himself by hiding under crates, said the troops stopped a car and set it afire along with its occupants.

Lone spoke to reporters in Srinagar, about 35 miles to the south, where he took some of the injured in a bus he commandeered. He said the soldiers also fired on a bus, killing 20 people.

Many other victims and survivors, who spoke with reporters outside Sopore while fleeing the town, told similar stories.

Mohammad Ramzan, who works in a fruit shop, said he was dragged out and shot by a soldier.

“I saw several people falling down in the firing,” said Ramzan, who was wounded in the thigh and abdomen. “Then this soldier caught hold of me. After that I don’t remember anything.”
Repoted by Time and other internationally media.

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