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Jammu and Kashmir: Here's why seven civilians died after Kulgam encounter

The blast, which claimed seven lives, occurred soon after security forces gunned down three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants in an encounter.

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk Jammu Updated on: October 22, 2018 0:01 IST
Kulgam: People clearing debris from the damaged house where
Image Source : PTI

Kulgam: People clearing debris from the damaged house where militants were hiding during an encounter, at Kulgam district of South Kashmir, Sunday, Oct 21, 2018. The police claim that the blast took place when people touched the ammunition left behind by dead terrorists.

A blast in Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam district claimed the lives of at least seven civillians on Sunday. The blast occurred soon after security forces gunned down three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants in an encounter. 

However, the encounter or actions by security forces were allegedly not the reason for civilian casualties. According to police officials, the civilians were killed when they tried to touch the unused explosives left behind by the militants. 

Here's what happened: 

The encounter with militants

Following intelligence report about the presence of militants, on Sunday morning security forces launched a search-and-cordon operation at Laroo village in Kulgam district, one of the worst hit by militancy in South Kashmir, 

The security forces made repeated announcements to the militants for surrender but instead they were fired upon. In the retaliatory fire, three militants of Jaish-e-Mohammed were killed.

Also read | Two Pak intruders shot dead along LoC in J&K's Sunderbani, 3 soldiers martyred

Stone-pelting and the blast

As the security forces were carrying out routine clearance, they came under heavy stone pelting from a mob, which had cordoned off the encounter site. 

During the partial withdrawal of the security forces, the mob thronged the encounter site to gather remaining arms and ammunition, which is passed on later to militant groups, police alleged.

During this, unexploded shells and grenades of militants went off killing one and injuring several others. They were rushed to a hospital where five succumbed to their injuries.

There is another unidentified body, completely charred and beyond recognition, at the hospital, police said, adding that no one had claimed the body so far.

India Tv - Kulgam encounter

Image Source : PTI

Kulgam: A youth shows empty bullets collected from debris of the damaged house where militants were hiding during an encounter, at Kulgam district of South Kashmir, Sunday, Oct 21, 2018. The police say that locals gather ammunition left behind by militants to pass it back to the outfit. 

The incident came days before the scheduled visit of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Kashmir on Tuesday. 

The killed militants have been identified as Shabdil Ahmed Tantray of Shopian, who joined militancy in July 2018; Zubair Ahmed Lone of Kulgam (joined in May); and Yazil Ahmad Mukhroo of Bijbehara, who had joined in June this year.

Who is to blame for the blast? 

Jammu and Kashmir police tweeted that "civilians visited encounter site immediately after operation in spite of request not to visit as thorough search was on for explosives. They didn't listen and thus visited the spot. Some explosive substance went off resulting in injuries to civilians."

Today's incident was a grim reminder of April 1 incident this year when three army men, four civilians and four militants were killed in adjoining district of Shopian.

Advisor to the Governor, K Vijay Kumar, and DGP Dilbag Singh have expressed regret over the loss of civilian lives at the encounter site and conveyed their profound condolences to the bereaved families.

They said such sites should be avoided by civilians till they are properly sanitised. 

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah and Vice President Omar Abdullah expressed shock and deep anguish over the killing of civilians in Laroo in Kulgam. Both leaders prayed for peace to departed souls and wishes speedy recovery to the injured.

Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, "Extremely saddened by the news of kulgam incident, where civilians were once again caught in the cross fire of violence, thus adding fuel to the already volatile situation. All words of condemnation, condolence sound very hollow at this tragedy." 

(With PTI inputs)

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