SRINAGAR: Thousands of people turned out to bid farewell to the two slain militantsMonday in Southern Kashmirs Pulwama district.
Two Hizbul-Mujahideen militants were killed in Padgampora village in Awantipora area of Pulwama district on Sunday in a military ambush.
The massive funerals later turned into a pro-freedom marches and as government forces intervened, fierce clashes broke out turning the entire area into battle zones.
The slain militants were identified as Shahbaz Ahmed Wani alias Kaachur of Belo village in Rajpora, Pulwama and Farooq Ahmed Hura of Nazneenpora village in Shopian district. Both were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen.
While there were rumours of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Pulwama district commander Riyaz Naikoo in the gunfight, officials refuted the reports later.
Shahbaz, 21, had been active in the militant ranks since June last year while Hurra, also 21, had joined Hizb in August last year.
Amid complete shutdown, thousands of people on Monday staged anti-India protests and attended funerals of the duo militants at Pulwama and Shopian districts in Southern Kashmir while clashes left nearly 18 persons injured.
Reports said thousands of people converged at Bellow and Nazneenpora to attend funeral prayers of the duo.
Against the killing of these militants, complete shutdown was observed at Pulwama, Awantipora, Shopian, Tral and other villages of the two districts.
According to eyewitnesses, four back to back funerals for Rayees were offered at Bellow by thousands of people amid massive anti-India protests. The slain was later buried in local martyrs graveyard. Soon after the burial, hundreds of people clashed with government forces who responded by pellets, teargas shells and aerial firing.
At Nazneenpora, thousands of people staged anti-India protests and offered funeral prayers of Farooq Ahmad Hurra, the militant killed yesterday. He was laid to rest amid sobs and tears. The funeral and burial concluded peacefully. According to reports, the Shopian district also observed complete shutdown.
In Tral town of Pulwama district, clashes between youth and government forces erupted against the militant killings.
Kashmir police chief, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gilani, yesterday said that the shootout took place at Padgampora when a police party was returning from Pulwama towards Awantipora after attending an election review meeting there.
Three militants who were travelling in a private car opened fire on the police party after spotting it near Padgampora, he told a press conference at Awantipora.
He said the fire was retaliated to and in the ensuing gunfight, two militants were killed while another managed to escape.
Refuting reports that police had any prior information about movement of militants and that a nakka was laid, the IGP said: It was a chance encounter.
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