Civilian toll post J&K gunfights rises to five

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Srinagar, April 3 (IANS) A 23-year-old man injured in clashes with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on Monday succumbed to his critical injuries at a hospital here on Tuesday, hospital authorities said.

Gowhar Ahmad Rather was injured in Kangan town. With his death, the number of civilians killed in Kashmir since Sunday rose to five.

Police initially said the youth had injured himself while being chased away by security forces.

But doctors at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, where the youth was admitted, said he had been hit with pellets (metallic pieces) which had fractured his skull and caused a fatal brain injury.

Tension gripped Kangan town on the Srinagar-Leh highway, 40 km from Srinagar, after news of the youth’s death spread.

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Authorities have imposed curfew in the town but angry youths are defying restrictions to engage the security forces in pitched clashes.

Mian Altaf Ahmad, senior National Conference leader and MLA from Kangan, has demanded a judicial probe into the youth’s killing, saying unwarranted force had been used.

All movement on the otherwise busy Srinagar-Sonamarg road has been halted.

The highway across the Zojila Pass leading into the Ladakh region is yet to be officially thrown open. But even then, scores of tourists had been visiting the Sonamarg hill station on the foothills of Zojila Pass till Monday.

Four civilians were killed when protesters tried to disrupt anti-militancy operations in Shopian district on Sunday where 13 militants and three soldiers were killed in fierce gun battles.

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