SRINAGAR: Two civilians were shot dead in occupied Kashmir late on Sunday, police said.

The disputed Himalayan region has witnessed a major uptick in violence targeting Indian civilians who hail from outside the region.

A police statement said that two labourers were killed when local fighters fired indiscriminately in the southern district of Kulgam, with a third labourer critically wounded and taken to hospital. Officials said the dead were from the eastern state of Bihar.

On Saturday, assailants fatally shot two non-local workers in separate attacks in the disputed region’s main city of Srinagar and southern Pulwama district. This followed seven civilian deaths in gun attacks the previous week.

Police have blamed an armed group known as The Resistance Front, or TRF, for the previous killings.

The group in a statement on social media said it was targeting those working for Indian authorities. The group’s statement could not be independently verified, however.

TRF was formed after India stripped in 2019 the disputed region of its semi-autonomous status and undertook a massive security and communications lockdown for months. Occupied Kashmir has remained on edge ever since as authorities also put in place a slew of new laws, which many Kashmiris fear could change the region’s demographics.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2021

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