A civilian was killed in an exchange of fire between Army personnel and terrorists in north Kashmir's Kupwara district, prompting the J&K government to order a magisterial inquiry even as the Army and local police initiated separate probes.
Asif Iqbal Bhat, a driver by profession, was killed in cross firing between Army men and terrorists, Srinagar-based defence spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.
Based on information about terrorists in Thindpura village, the Army laid ambushes in the area on the night of December 16-17, he said.
"Around 2255 hours, an ambush party noticed the suspicious movement of three people near a nullah. They were challenged by troops. The terrorists opened fire and the troops retaliated. In the crossfire, one person, Asif Iqbal Bhat, was killed due to a gunshot wound," the defence spokesperson said.
An investigation was underway, Kalia said. Police said Bhat, a resident of Thandipora, was taken to the Kralpora sub-district hospital, from where he was referred to a hospital in Srinagar where he succumbed to injuries.
An FIR was registered at the Kralpora police station and a probe was underway, a police spokesperson said.
The Mehbooba Mufti government also ordered a magisterial probe into the killing, even as the Opposition condemned the incident.
"We have ordered an inquiry into the incident. Additional District Magistrate Mohammad Abdullah Malik will head the inquiry committee," Deputy Commissioner (Kupwara) Khalid Jehangir told PTI.
He said the magisterial inquiry, which will be completed in three weeks, and the police probe will go on concurrently.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed grief over the killing and directed the probe be conducted in an expeditious manner.
National Conference working president Omar Abdullah said the Army's "uninvestigated" claim that Bhat was killed in cross firing should not be used to "brush the incident under the carpet".
Separatists Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani sought to blame the authorities for the incident.