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August 1, 2000
18 labourers massacred near Anantnag
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
At least 18 non-Kashmiri labourers working at a brick kiln in south Kashmir were killed by gunmen around mid-night on Tuesday, top police sources in Srinagar said.
The sources said that the gunmen forced their entry into the brick kiln at Mir Bazar, Qazigund, nearly 80 kms from Srinagar, and sprayed bullets on the labourers killing 18 of them, some of them in their sleep, on the spot. Some others were wounded in the attack. The gunmen later fled under the cover of darkness.
Security officials from Qazigund and Anantnag rushed to the spot. Sources said that security forces and police have cordoned off the area and a massive hunt has been mounted to nab the killers. Though no group has claimed responsibility for the killings, police blamed militants for the massacre.
Senior police and civil officials were kept busy in Pahalgam where 27 persons, including 16 pilgrims, were killed in heavy firing by militants and subsequent retaliation by the security forces.
The overall situation in Kashmir was reviewed at a high level meeting in Srinagar late on Tuesday. The killings have followed the unilateral ceasefire announced by the Hizbul Mujahideen, a militant outfit, last month.
Meanwhile, the bodies of all the 27 persons killed in Pahalgam are to be brought to Srinagar for identification. Thousands of Amarnath bound yatris (pilgrims) are stranded in Pahalgam and Jammu following fierce rains along the 40 km dirt track.
An indefinite curfew was imposed in Pahalgam on Tuesday evening to maintain law and order and more troops were deployed for the security of the pilgrims.
Security forces in the health resort town were combing the area for militants. No group has owned responsibility for the attack. Sources said that militants came down from a nearby hill and resorted to heavy firing.
The seriously wounded were taken to Srinagar from Anantnag where they were rushed for treatment. Some of the injured are being treated in Anantnag.
Security has been further tightened in Jammu following the Pahalgam attack. Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in strength to maintain law and order. Sources said no pilgrim would be allowed to leave Jammu for Pahalgam on Wednesday.
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