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Militants massacre 8 villagers in Rajouri

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar

In a gory incident, militants on Wednesday gunned down eight villagers and injured four others in Sarwardi village, 20 kilometres from Rajouri in Jammu.

A senior police officer told Rediff On The NeT over the telephone that a group of heavily armed militants, including foreigners, descended on the village on Wednesday morning.

"They ordered everyone out of their houses and opened fire indiscriminately," the officer said. ''The eight villagers were killed on the spot. The injured were admitted to the Rajouri government hospital, from where, later, one of them -- Bhupinder Singh -- was airlifted to Jammu.''

As there were no police presence in the village, the news -- just as the victims -- reached Rajouri much after the incident. Troops have now been rushed to the village, and a combing operation is on in the area.

The incident, which comes just days after Union Home Minister Inderjit Gupta's Rajouri visit to take stock of the security situation there, has triggered high tension. Shop-keepers in Rajouri downed shutters and several processions were taken out to protest the massacre.

Local Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have demanded that the authorities provide adequate security in vulnerable villages.

Recently, militants had engaged troops in gun battles at Thanamandi in the same sector. The fierce clash had continued for a week, claiming 10 lives -- six armymen and four militants -- and triggering a migration.

Police sources admitted that a few militant groups have recently crossed over to the Rajouri sector.

EARLIER REPORT: Home minister to review situation in battle-torn Rajouri

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