SRINAGAR: Amid simmering tensions in the Valley ahead of the second death anniversary of Hizb commander Burhan Wani, three civilians, including a 16-year-old girl, were shot dead allegedly by the Army during clashes with protesters in the restive south Kashmir’s Kulgam district today morning.

Official sources and witnesses said a joint team of police, paramilitary forces and the Army laid siege of Redwani village, a Jamaat-e-Islami bastion in Kulgam district, following specific inputs about the presence of a group of militants in the area.

“Soon after forces started house-to-house search operation, hundreds of residents came out of their homes and started protesting against the search operation, sparking clashes during which protesters pelted stones at forces,” sources said.

Residents of Hawoora-Mishpora, where the cordon and search operation is presently underway, said the Army personnel barged into many homes, resorted to vandalism and also assaulted the inhabitants, “They broke window panes and doors of many homes and also abducted dozens of youth, many of whom are still in their custody,” sources said.

Sources said the Army action agitated the locals and dozens of youth started pelting stones at them, triggering massive clashes in the area, “The Army soldiers fired directly at the protesters, resulting in injuries to at least dozen protesters,” they said.

Officials said the injured were taken to a local health facility where three of them have been declared as brought brought dead. The deceased have been identified as Shakir Ahmad, 22, Irshad Majeed, 20 and the girl, Andleeb. 16. All are residents of Hawoora village of Redwani.

A doctor at the local health facility in south Kashmir’s Kulgam said all the slain persons had bullet injuries in their abdomen and chest. “The condition of another injured is critical and he has been referred to Srinagar for treatment,” he said.

The fresh killings will heighten tensions in the already restive Kashmir Valley where restrictions have been imposed in parts, including in summer capital Srinagar ahead of the death anniversary of Burhan Wani. All the Hurriyat leaders have been put under house arrest or jailed to stop them from carrying out rallies.

Massive clashes between security forces and protesters are going on in the area even as the cordon and search operation was underway when this report was filed. According to some reports, the fourth civilian has also succumbed. However, officials didn’t confirm the killing.