Local sympathy for militants up in Valley

Attempts of local residents, mostly youths, to storm encounter sites to divert the attention of security forces have been taking place with regularity in recent years.
Local sympathy for militants up in ValleyThis has been going on for over five years now. It is a reversal of the earlier phase of insurgency when residents used to flee.
The latest incident took place on Wednesday in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district where militants, initially believed to be two or three in number, were trapped by security forces in Naina village.
As the encounter was under way amid intense exchange of gunfire, local residents began throwing stones on police and paramilitary personnel.
“During the operation, a large number of people came towards the site and threw stones on security force personnel,” said a police spokesman.
A police officer and 16 security force personnel were injured in the clashes with protesters and a police vehicle was set ablaze.
By the time security forces vacated the encounter site, a militant and a civilian were killed. At least one militant is believed to have escaped, but it was yet to be verified.
A police official in Pulwama said the protesters were mostly driven to help militants by friendship, kinship and a sense of belonging.