Srinagar: Hizbul Mujahideen Tuesday confirmed that the three youth, whose bullet-riddled bodies were recovered yesterday, were militants who belonged to the outfit and alleged that they had been killed by police.
"Amir Reshi, Ashiq Ahmad and Naveed were activists of Hizbul Mujahideen and had joined the outfit ranks recently," said its chief Syed Salahuddin, who is based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), while addressing his outfit's cadres.
Bullet-riddled bodies of the three youth with torture marks were recovered from an orchard, about 30 kms from here in Pattan area of Baramulla district yesterday, triggering protests and clashes between locals and police.
Salahuddin, according to a statement issued by Hizb spokesman Saleem Hashmi, insisted that the slain militants did not belong to Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI), considered a breakaway faction of the outfit.
Police sources had yesterday said the deceased belonged to LeI and were suspectedly killed in inter-group fight.
"This outfit (LeI) does not exist," said Salahuddin, who also heads the United Jehad Council (UJC), an amalgam of various militant outfits.
"The trio were active members of the (Hizbul Mujahideen) outfit and were killed in custody," the release said.
Police sources had earlier said that Aamir Qadir Reshi of Sopore and 23-year-old Ashiq Wani of Lolipora of Pattan were associated with Lashker-e-Islam, a breakaway outfit of Hizbul Mujahideen formed by its rebel leader Abdul Qayyum Najjar.
Parts of north Kashmir including the native places of the slain youth observed a complete shutdown for the second day today.
Hardline Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a general strike across Kashmir against the "cold blooded" murder of the trio.
Meanwhile, JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik was detained by police at Tarzoo village when he was on way to nearby Sopore to express condolence to the bereaved families, a spokesman of JKLF said.