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3 killed as violence spreads to Poonch

Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: Even as an uneasy calm prevailed in Kashmir, violence broke out on Wednesday in the border district of Poonch in the Jammu division, where three civilians were killed and 25 injured in police firing at a mob protesting against the alleged desecration of the Holy Koran in the United States.

Immediately after the firing, the mob went on the rampage, torching 12 government buildings and seven vehicles.

Reports said thousands of people took to the streets at Mendhar in the district to take out a rally. As they headed to the bus-stand, the police tried to stop them. As their appeal went in vain, they opened fire, resulting in the death of one Shamim Ahmed.

Several injured people were shifted to the district hospital and some others airlifted to Jammu. Almadar Hussain Shah and Arshad Ahmad Khan died of injuries while being taken to the Government Medical College, Jammu.

Locals alleged that there was no provocation for the police to open fire, which was ordered by the Sub Divisional Police Officer of Mendhar. No senior police officers could be reached for comments.

Police said the protesters “took the law into their own hands.” The government buildings torched included the SDM's office — where a gas cylinder exploded inflicting injuries on six persons — the SDPO office, the Forest Department office and the BDO office. They also set ablaze two police and five civilian vehicles.

The situation in Mendhar was stated to be tense, and security reinforcements were rushed there.

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