Kashmir on boil after six deaths in firing

Locals stand around the vehicle that was hit during a shoot-out at Pahoo in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Monday. Four youth and a militant were killed in the firing incident

Locals stand around the vehicle that was hit during a shoot-out at Pahoo in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Monday. Four youth and a militant were killed in the firing incident

The Sunday evening shootout occurred when suspected militants travelling in two private vehicles opened fire at an Army mobile checkpoint on the outskirts of Shopian, about 55 km (34 miles) south of Srinagar city, said Col. Rajesh Kalia, a military spokesman who is based there.

Waheed Ahmad, a resident of Shopian, said, "The army's claim that the four civilians were accomplices or had anything to do with militancy is a blatant lie". The identities of the civilians killed during the clash are being ascertained, the police said.

The army has claimed that the civilians were over ground workers (OGW) of a militant organisation, while family members have negated the claims and alleged army of killing them in cold-blooded murder.

The Army said in a statement that militants fired at the mobile check post from two vehicles. In the retaliatory gunfire, one militant was killed and a weapon was found on him.

Also, the three over ground workers/accomplices in the auto who were accompanying the terrorist were found to be dead. An Army spokesperson claimed the youths were overground militant workers, but local residents claimed they were civilians travelling in the auto, according to media reports.

"Varying accounts from the Chief Minister and the Security Forces on the incident are unfortunate and further perpetuate the sense of disenchantment, distrust and alienation", he said.

"Situation is very tense here, " Ahmed said".

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The killings have triggered outrage in the Valley.

"Deeply distressed by more deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire in Shopian".

A shutdown was observed in the Valley on Monday on a call given by the separatists, who accused the security forces of having killed civilians.

The Jammat-e-Islami in it's statement said that the incident proves that the Indian Army is immune from every legal and moral accountability. "Taking up arms or joining terrorism only lead to loss of life and nothing can be achieved", he said. The Srinagar-Banihal train service was suspended while internet services remained snapped in the two districts.

Call for the strike has been given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik.

The State Public Service Commission ordered the cancellation of Monday's civil services exams in the state. The January incident sparked outrage amongst the locals and the Jammu and Kashmir Police filed an FIR against the Indian Army, resulting in a political row. "The search operation was started in the area while an alert was also sounded." he added.

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