Srinagar: Two youth were killed allegedly in army firing in the wee hours on Sunday in Sumbal area of north Kashmir's Bandipora district, leading to protests by the local residents.
"Two youth have been killed in army firing this morning. It is a very unfortunate incident," Minister for Higher Education Mohammad Akbar Lone, who is also the local MLA told.
The deceased youth have been identified as Irfan Ahmad Ganaie and Irshad Ahmad Dar, both residents of Markundal village in Sumbal area, 25 kms from Srinagar.
Local residents staged a protest against the killings, which took place at around 3.30 am, alleging that the army firing was unprovoked.
The Army said while it had no hand in the killing of one youth, the other died when troops opened fire in self-defence as a mob tried to set an army ambulance on fire.
"Based on intelligence inputs about movement of militants through the area, an ambush was laid. Firing of shots was heard outside the cordon area and later it was found that one youth has been killed," an army official said.
He said some time later when the army ambulance was carrying doctors and some other staff through the area, a mob attacked it and tried to set the vehicle on fire.
"The troops opened firing in self-defence, which resulted in the death of the second youth," the army official added. Police officials, who are monitoring the situation, are tight-lipped about the incident.
Meanwhile, a senior army officer said an investigation has been ordered into the incident that led to the death of the two youths.
"Investigation has been ordered into the incident. If any army personnel is found guilty, he will be dealt strictly," Major General R R Nimbodkar, the General Officer Commanding of the counter insurgency Victor Force, told reporters at Awantipora.
The officer said army and police had launched a joint operation in the area based on specific information about presence of militants in the area.
"I cannot disclose further details of the operation as investigations are on," he added. He said after protests broke out in the area, army troops have been withdrawn there.