Authorities imposed on Wednesday curfew in parts of Indian-occupied Kashmir after three youth were killed in a firefight with government forces. The shootout overnight, west of Srinagar, comes amid high tension after ‘separatists’ shot dead seven Hindu pilgrims and injured 19 others in the disputed Himalayan territory. Soldiers and counterinsurgency police cordoned a neighbourhood in Redbugh village late Tuesday after learning about the presence of armed rebels in a house, a police officer claimed. “After the night-long standoff, all three were killed when they tried to break the cordon,” the officer said on condition of anonymity. “Their weapons and bodies have been recovered and identified as locals.” Fearing residents could pour onto the streets for the funerals of the slain rebels, authorities imposed a curfew in parts of Srinagar and erected checkpoints and blockades along main roads. Shopkeepers in Srinagar’s main commercial centre Lal Chowk shuttered their businesses for the day. There is no suggestion the shootout was linked to the attack on a bus shuttling Hindus on an annual pilgrimage to a Himalayan cave revered as the abode of the god Shiva. Jitendra Singh, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, said police and security forces were still carrying out investigations. “No one should jump to any conclusion on the attack. Let us wait for the definite inferences and inputs,” he told reporters in Srinagar.
Armed encounters between rebels and government forces have become more frequent since the killing of a Burhan Wani, a hugely popular separatist leader last July, which prompted dozens of local youth to join the rebel ranks.—AFP