SRINAGAR: A wave of violence in Kashmir Valley has left four persons, including a special police officer and three civilians dead in last 12 hours while security forces are battling a group of heavily armed militants caught in an encounter in Srinagar city.

In the first incident, suspected militants Saturday morning shot dead a special police officer of Jammu and Kashmir police in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Showkat Ahmad Dar was shot lethally near Petrol pump at Rahmoo village at around 9;35 am. “He was rushed to district hospital Pulwama where he was declared dead on arrival,” sources said.

In North Kashmir’s Bandipora district, a man and his nephew were abducted and later killed by unknown gunmen today morning, hours after a young man was shot dead at his home and his wife critically injured in the adjoining Baramulla district.

Senior Superintendent of Bandipora, Sheikh Zulfikar, said a group of militants barged into two houses in Gulshan Mohalla locality of Hajin last night from where they abducted Ghulam Hassan Dar, 45, alias Hassan Rassa and his nephew Bashir Ahmad Dar, 26.

“They were shot dead at around 3:30 am. Their bodies were found by the locals near a mosque at Raheem Dar Mohalla, Shahgund,” he said, adding that the police have lodged a case into the matter and an investigation has been started to nab the culprits.

The twin killings come barely five hours after unidentified gunmen barged into the house of Mohammad Ashraf Mir at Harwan village of Sopore and fired indiscriminately at the family, injuring him and his wife critically.

“They were rushed to Sub District Hospital Sopore where Ashraf later succumbed to injuries. His wife Saima Begum was referred to SMHS hospital in Srinagar for specialized treatment. A police party was rushed to spot but the militants had escaped,” SSP Sopore Javid Iqbal said.

The spate of civilian killings by unknown gunmen has spread fear and panic in North Kashmir areas where the graph of militancy has gone up over past couple of years with Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba making a strong comeback with the help of foreign manpower.

According to sources, Hajin, a cluster of villages known for being the hot-bed of the now disbanded state backed militia Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, has now become a safe haven for militants belonging to Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba outfits.

Police data reveals at least six civilians have been killed by suspected militants in Hajin in past couple of months, including Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, whose headless body was recovered on April 6 near his home after he was abducted. Police had blamed Lashkar-e-Toiba for the killing.

“These killings are aimed at creating fear and terrorising the civilian population but it will not deter us from going after the killers. We have identified the culprits behind these incidents and they will be brought to justice soon,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity.

On April 30, three boys were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Old Town of Baramulla district in Kashmir. The boys, according to the police, were on their way to Khanpora in Old Town when the militants fired nearly 15 rounds at them, killing them instantly.

Meanwhile, two suspected militants are caught in an encounter with security forces in Chattabal area of Srinagar city. The exchange of gunfire between the two sides is going on while the authorities have suspended mobile internet to prevent deterioration of the law and order situation.

(Cover photo Basit Zargar)