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Valley in boil over army's killing of civilians

Indian Army

"Body of another terrorist, identified as Ashiq Hussain Bhat, part of LeT, was found from apple orchards of village Saidpura, who is also linked with the same chain of events at village Pohanu", Kalia said.

Six people, including two militants, were killed in a shootout in Shopians Pahnoo area. "Further investigation is on", a police officer said.

Lone said the "mysterious" circumstances in which his son's body was found in the Maruti Wagon-R vehicle has raised many questions.

Srinagar-based defence spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia said the they were overground workers and accomplices of the slain militant.

A police officer said an MVCP near Pahnoo had signaled a vehicle to stop, but it did not. In the ensuing gunfight, one terrorist was hit and he fell off the vehicle. The vehicle veered off the road into a ditch even as the second vehicle sped away.

They identified the four civilians as Suhail Ahmad Wagay (22) son Khalid Ahmad Wagay of Pinjora, Shahid Khan (21) son of Bashir Khan of Malik Gund and Shahnawaz Wagay (23) son of Ali Mohammad of Moolu, Trenz and Gowhar Ahmad Lone (24) of Trenz. "Three more bodies were found in the vehicle amid the inquiry". War-like stores, including one AK-74, three magazines and 88 rounds were recovered from the dead terrorist, the spokesperson added.

India-Occupied Kashmir's chief minister Mehbooba Mufi said she was "deeply distressed by more deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire" as demonstrators took to the streets.

"Most of these killings have taken place in the Shopian district where around eight civilians, young men and teenagers have been killed including a 17 year old girl Saima Wani", he said in a statement issued to Brighter Kashmir.

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Train services in the Valley have been suspended.

Fearing widespread protests, authorities on Monday ordered a shutdown of schools and postponed all exams across the disputed Himalayan region until Wednesday, as tension rose following the killings.

APHC leaders Muhammad Yousuf Naqash, Yasmeen Raja, Muhammad Yasin Attaie, Syed Muhammad Shafi, Khawaja Firdous Wani, Rafeeq Ahmed Owaisi, Muhammad Shafi Khan, Rameez Raja, Syed Imtiaz Haider, Devender Singh Behl, Imran Ahmed and Showkat Ahmed Khan led a protest in Srinagar against the Shopian killings.

Malik, as per the spokesman, was part of Lashkar-e-Toiba and active since July 2017. The militants then fired in the air to honour their dead colleague.

Following the incident, clashes between surging crowds and security forces erupted in a few Shopian areas, a report said.

The shootings sparked an outpouring of anger among locals, who said the civilians were non-combatants.

"These forces enjoy completely immunity from any accountability or legal prosecution under the cover of the draconian law the armed forces special powers act or AFSPA".

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