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Jammu and Kashmir; civilians
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7 civilians among 11 killed in encounter, protests in J&K’s Pulwama

Srinagar | Seven civilians died in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district Saturday when security forces allegedly opened fire at an unruly crowd that tried to storm the site of an encounter in which three militants and Army man were killed, police said.

The incident took place at Sirnoo village in the morning when the security forces laid siege to a locality based on intelligence reports about the presence of three militants, including an Army deserter – Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, in the area, police officials said.

As soon as the news about Thoker being trapped in an encounter spread, people started thronging the encounter site as the army deserter belonged to the same village, they said. Though the encounter ended in 25 minutes with the killing of the three militants, the security forces had a tough time as people started climbing onto Army vehicles, the officials said.

They said warning shots were fired but that did not deter the mob, forcing the security forces to open fire at the civilians. Seven civilians were killed and dozens of others injured, including a youth who’s condition was stated to be critical. Thoker had gone missing from an Army unit in the Gantmulla area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district in July last year.

He had decamped with his service rifle and three magazines and had joined the militant ranks. The security forces said Thoker was involved in several killings in Pullman district. The identities of two other militants were being ascertained.

The officials said an army jawan lost his life in the gunfight, while two other soldiers were critical. Authorities have snapped mobile internet facility in entire south Kashmir comprising four districts.

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