Security forces on Tuesday shot dead a top Hizbul Mujahideen militant in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering violent protests in Sopore to which he belonged.

Police said Sameer Wani was killed after security forces surrounded a house in Nagri village in Kupwara district, some 100 km from here, following information that some militants were hiding there.

A police officer said  that security forces came under heavy fire from the hideout, leading to fighting that left Wani, the Hizb divisional commander for north Kashmir, dead.

As soon as reports of Wani’s killing reached his Dooru village in Sopore, hundreds of residents came out to protest shouting anti-government and pro-freedom slogans, witnesses and officials said.

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The protesters set ablaze a police vehicle in Shiva area after his body reached the village but its occupants were not harmed.

Dozens of motorcycle borne young men took out a rally as the militant commander’s body was taken in a procession for funeral prayers.

Markets were closed and public transport went off the roads spontaneously following Wani’s death.

The protesters also clashed with police and threw stones at them. Police fired tear gas to disperse them as tension ran high in and around the area.

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