- Army launches encounter in south Kashmir's Kulgam
- People take to streets in protest after 2 local terrorists killed
- Police fire bullets killing a man, injuring over 20 others
Thousands came out to protest the encounter in which the army said it had killed four terrorists of the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba who were all local men. The hideout was a civilian's house and he was held hostage before being killed in the encounter as well.
Top army sources said a group of seven terrorists had gathered for a meeting and three managed to escape with one of them was injured after security forces struck the hideout late last night.
"This is for the first time that we saw terrorists take a civilian hostage. We went into the house to save the civilian and to launch our operation," Brigadier R Chakraborty, a senior Army officer, said.
But after the encounter ended, huge crowds of protesters came out to protest the death of the locals. The police, which was criticised for using the less lethal pellet guns during last year's agitation, used bullets today. The entire 20 km-stretch between Kulgam and Anantanag is tense with violent protests at some places.
"Police didn't allow protesters to break the cordon and go to the spot of the encounter. That triggered stone-pelting in the first place.
Subsequently, there was stone-pelting. Bullets and pellets used to disperse the protesters," SP Vaid, the Director General of Police in Jammu and Kashmir, told NDTV.
South Kashmir is considered a hub for home-grown terrorism. Since July last year, 59 locals have joined terrorist ranks, officials say.
Counter-terrorism operations were stopped during the five months of unrest triggered by the killing of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul terrorist with a large following, but resumed after protests ended.
"Terrorism here is perpetuated and sponsored by Islamabad. Soldiers are operating under most difficult circumstances," Jatindra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, said.