Kulgam: At least 4 civilians were killed and around 82 people were wounded with some of them critically during clashes which erupted near the gunfight site in Khudwani area of Kulgam district.
An army man identified as S. Gunakar Rao was killed in the gun fight while two others suffered injuries. All the militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba managed to escape from the spot.
“It was mayhem in Khudwani Wanimohalla. Bullets and pellets rained everywhere in response to the stones hurled by protesters who were hell-bent to move towards the gun fight site to help militants escape,” an eyewitness told news agency CNS.
The gunfight started had on Tuesday night after the forces received a tip off and cordoned the area. Three militants were trapped in a house. After initial exchange of fire, the operation was halted till dawn while all arrangements were put in place to prevent militants from escaping.
As the exchange of fire started on Wednesday morning, large number of people from adjoining areas hit the roads and clashed with armed forces.
The protesting youth resorted to massive stone-pelting while forces fired bullets and pellets leaving scores of people injured. Medical sources said that at least 82 people suffered injuries out of which Four civilians succumbed to their injuries.
However the police in a statement said that the civilians were killed in ‘crossfire’. The deceased were identified as Sharjeel Ahmed Sheikh, Bilal Ahmed Dar, Ajaz Ahmed Pala and a minor boy Faisal Illahi.
Sixty injured were shifed to PHC Qaimouh while 18 were admitted in Kulgam and Anantnag hospitals out of which 8 were referred to Srinagar hospitals.
Forces blasted the houses in which militants were trapped. Locals said that five houses and three shops were completely damaged that belonged to Ghulam Muhammad Wani, Bashir Ahmed Lone, Bilal Ahmed Dar, Muhammad Yousuf Wani and Muhammd Latif Wani.
To fight the trapped militants, Army had even used helicopter gun ships. “Huge blasts were heard after helicopter gunships fired at the house,” they said.
Sources said that all the three militants managed to escape from the gunfight spot. Sources identified those militants as Muhammad Azad Pala alias Zaid, Bilal Ahmed alias Asim and Suhail Ahmed Dar of Redwani,