Srinagar: Bullet-ridden bodies of three youth were recovered on Monday from an apple orchard in Kashmir's Baramulla district, police said, claiming they were victims of rivalry between Hizbul Mujahideen and its breakaway group Lashkar-e-Islami.
The bodies of the youth, aged between 17 and 21, were found in Shuru (Dangerpora) village in the district.
"One of the slain youth has been identified as Amir Muhammad Reshi of Harde Shiva (Sopore) who had been missing for some time and is believed to have joined the breakaway group of the Hizbul Mujahideen headed by Qayoom Najar," a police officer told IANS here.
"Investigations have been launched in the murder and more facts will be shared with the media as these are unearthed during the course of investigations."
As police took custody of the bodies and shifted them for post-mortem and other legal formalities to the district hospital in Baramula town, agitated civilians blocked the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway at Pattan town and Kreeri.
Clashes also erupted between the protestors and the security forces in Sopore and Baramulla towns.
The protestors demanded that those responsible for the murder be brought to justice.
The ruling PDP condemned the killing and asked its rivals the National Conference not to play politics on this highly sensitive issue.
Lashkar-e-Islami headed by Qayoom Najar had hit the headlines in April-May by targeting cellular phone services in north Kashmir. Three service providers and land owners of cell phone towers were killed during that period.
The group also carried out grenade attacks in Sopore, Pattan and Srinagar to instil fear among cell phone operators and those associated with the trade.
Hizbul Mujahideen had condemned those attacks and dissociated completely from those responsible for carrying out these attacks.
State and central intelligence agencies have said Lashkar-e-Islami was a breakaway group of the Hizbul that had developed differences with the leadership and had started operating on its own under the command of Najar, who is still at large.