SRINAGAR: A young woman was shot dead today afternoon during clashes with government forces near the site of an overnight encounter in south Kashmir in which two suspected militants were killed.

Witnesses and family sources said the 24-year-old woman, whose identity was not immediately known, was hit by a bullet when security forces allegedly opened fire at protesters in Batmuran village of Shopian district.

“She was taken to a hospital but doctors declared her dead on arrival. Eight more protesters who had suffered various firearm injuries at the site of clashes were taken to different hospitals for treatment,” sources in the medical administration said.

Fresh clashes broke out today morning between agitated locals, comprising women and children, and a joint search team of J&K Police, Army and CRPF who laid siege of the village last night following inputs about the presence of militants in the area.

“The contact was established with the militants last night but the operation was put on hold due to darkness. Locals however came out of their homes and started pelting stones at the forces,” an Army official said.

When the operation resumed today morning, residents came out of their homes shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, and staged protests which soon boiled down into sporadic clashes during which youths pelted stones at the forces who retaliated with teargas shells.

Witnesses and sources said the forces planted IEDs around a residential house, where a group of two to three militants were hiding, and blasted it. According to police, two suspected militants have been killed whose bodies have been recovered.

“As soon as the forces launched a search operation to find the whereabouts of another militants, who was believed to be hiding under the debris of the house, locals turned violent again, broke the perimeter around the house and tried to disrupt the operation,” Army sources said.

“They (security forces) first fired shots into the air and resorted to heavy teargas shelling and pellet firing but when the protesters didn’t relent, they aimed their guns at them and opened fire. The woman was hit in the abdomen,” local witnesses, who didn’t want to be named, said.

The incident comes barely days after the Army was accused of killing a civilian, Asif Iqbal, a driver, in “cold blood”, who was allegedly mistaken for a militant during a search operation in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

The state government has ordered a magisterial probe into the killing while as the J&K Police has also filed an FIR but the family of the victim have no hope of justice. Human rights activists say such cases have never concluded in punishment for the culprits.