Two civilians were killed and 10 others injured in clashes that erupted during a gun-battle between security forces and Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in Anantnag district of south Kashmir today. Mohammad Ashraf Khar (34) was killed in crossfire when the encounter started at 10 AM at Arwani village in Bijbehara, 51 km from here. Khar, a resident of Kharpora Arwani area, was rushed to district hospital at Bijbehara where he was declared brought dead, police said. Ahsan Mushtaq (15) was killed after he was hit by bullets near the site of the encounter, a police official said. He said it was not immediately clear whether the duo were part of the stone-pelting mob who tried to disrupt the anti- militancy operation in the village. Some people had started pelting stones on the security personnel immediately after the security forces laid a cordon around the house, located in densely populated Malik Mohalla of the village. The accompanying teams of the local police and CRPF used tear gas shells and resorted to firing pellets after the crowd began hurling stones at the troops, thereby, hampering the counter-insurgency operation. A police party, which was part of the anti-militancy operation, was also fired upon from the crowd, the officer said. Ten persons were injured, mostly by pellets, he said. The security forces had received an intelligence tip-off about the presence of three militants inside the house.
Later in the evening, reports suggested that all the ultras have been killed. However, no bodies have been recovered so far. Following the civilian killings, clashes broke out between protesters and security forces at nearly a dozen places in the Valley, including Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar, Tral, Pampore, Pulwama town and Anantnag in south Kashmir, Hajin in Bandipora and Sopore in Baramulla in north Kashmir. The protests erupted shortly after Friday prayers and were going on when reports last came in, officials said. They said several persons were injured in the clashes. JKLF Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik was taken into preventivecustody from his Abi Guzar office in the heart of Srinagar prior to Friday prayers. "Malik along with senior member G M Dar was arrested from Abi Guzar and both of them were shifted to Central jail on a judicial remand till June 19," a JKLF spokesman said. Meanwhile, separatists have called for a general strike on June 18 against the killing of civilians and ransacking of properties allegedly by security forces.