Kashmir unrest: 14 people, including LeT militant Junaid Matoo, killed in separate incidents


File image of deceased LeT commander Junaid Matoo. Image courtesy: News18  
The Kashmir Valley saw a spate of violence on Friday as 14 people were killed in three separate incidents. The deceased include three militants, two civilians, eight policemen and one soldier.
Militants killed in Arwani area
The first incident took place in Arwani village located in south Kashmir's Kilgam district. The security forces — which included the army, the Kashmir police and the CRPF — had cornered Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants in a house in Malik Mohalla area. A fierce gunfight raged in which three militants were killed, including top LeT commander Junaid Matoo.
Matoo, 19, was among the 12 most wanted militants in the Kashmir Valley and was a new-age Kashmiri militant who joined the LeT instead of the Hizbul Mujahideen.
The bodies of the three militants were recovered by the forces. The other two militants were identified as Nasir Wani and Adil Mushtaq Mir. They also recovered arms, ammunition, magazines and grenades from the encounter site.
As they were cordoning off the area, youth gathered around the area and started pelting stones at the forces which led to clashes between the forces and the civilians. Clashes also erupted around the area in which the forces fired at the protesters.
Two civilians, 22-year-old Mohammad Ashraf Khar and 14-year-old Ahsan Dar, were killed in the firing.
As a result of the casualties, the separatists called for a protest shutdown and authorities imposed section 144 in south Kashmir.
Police party attacked in Achabal area
In what is believed to be a response to the Matoo's killing, terrorists attacked a police party in Achabal area of south Kashmir which is 20 km away from the site of the Arwani encounter. They first overpowered the policemen and then fatally shot them in their faces from close range. The incident took place when Feroz Ahmed, a 2010 batch sub-inspector, was on his way to Achabal police station after completing his duty in Anantnag.
The militants had laid an ambush on Anantnag-Achabal road near Kulgad village and fired at the police party. The police were not travelling in a bullet proof vehicle.
All the policemen, including Ahmed, died on the spot, senior police officials said. Army has been called out to undertake a combing operation in the area. The Hindu reports the number of the deceased policemen as eight.
Ahmed was quite popular in South Kashmir police division and had recently organised an iftar party. The other deceased officers include constables Sharik Ahmad and Tanveer Ahmad (Budgam district), Sheraz Ahmad (Achabal), Asif Ahmad and Sabzar Ahmed (Anantnag).
Soldier killed at the LoC
In a separate, unconnected incident, an Indian Army soldier was killed in firing by the Pakistan Army on the LoC in the state's Naushera sector. The firing took place on the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district.
Defence ministry spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Manish Mehta said, "The Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked firing on Indian Army posts in Naushera sector around 5.15 am on Friday."
"The Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively," he said. "In the firing exchange Naik Bakhtawar Singh was grievously injured and succumbed to his injuries while being evacuated to the military hospital."
The incidents are unfortunately becoming more and more commonplace as skirmishes at the LoC are happening at an alarming frequency. Within the state itself too, it seems that the fear of death seems to have vanished among the people as is evidenced by the large number of protesters which show up every time militants are trapped by the police. And until major steps are taken to remedy the situation, it seems like the hilly territory will stay in a state of chaos.

With inputs from agencies
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