Suspected militants hurled a grenade and wounded four policemen in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday amid widespread violent protests over the weekend killings of two alleged separatists by security forces, police said.
The attackers lobbed the grenade at policemen deployed near a bank in Sopore town of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, an official said.
“We have launched a massive manhunt to nab the attackers, who fled after lobbing the grenade,” the official who requested anonymity told BenarNews.
The attack came as authorities lifted curfews imposed on Saturday after violent protests erupted across the insurgency-torn region in the wake of the killings of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, 27, and his aide Faizan Muzzafar, 16.
HM is the oldest and largest separatist group operating in Kashmir, a disputed region claimed in its entirety by India and Pakistan, and where a separatist insurgency has claimed more than 70,000 lives since the late 1980s.
Bhat, who had a 1 million rupee (about U.S. $15,000) bounty on his head, and Muzzafar were gunned down during a 35-hour gunbattle with security forces in south Kashmir’s Tral town, about 45 km (28 miles) from Srinagar.
A 28-year-old civilian, Aqib Ahmad, was killed and at least 100 others injured when anti-India protesters clashed with security forces in south Kashmir after the encounter, reviving memories of the months-long unrest that followed the killing of a top HM commander last year.
More than 100 people were killed and 10,000 injured in the violence that lasted over five months after Burhan Wani was shot dead by security forces on July 8.
Bhat was a close aide of Wani and had been instrumental in recruiting Kashmiri youths for HM through video messages circulated on social-networking sites, police said.
Fearing another cycle of street violence, Indian authorities placed top separatist leaders, who have allegedly spearheaded anti-India agitations, under house arrest soon after the encounter on Saturday and shut down Internet and mobile services in sensitive districts.
Although fresh clashes erupted in some parts of south Kashmir, injuring at least eight protesters and three policemen, police said they were doing their best to control the situation.
“The situation has returned to normal in most parts of Kashmir. We are trying to calm the tension in south Kashmir too,” Indian Kashmir’s police chief S.P. Vaid told BenarNews. “We will review the situation on Wednesday evening and then be able to take a decision on lifting the internet ban.”