Srinagar: Suspected militants on Wednesday evening shot dead a woman artist and injured her 10-year-old nephew in a targeted attack at her home in Hushroo village of Chadoora area in central Kashmir, officials said.
According to Jammu and Kashmir police, the militants fired at Amreena Bhat at about 8 pm.
"She was shifted to a hospital in an injured condition where doctors declared her dead. Her 10-year-old nephew, who was also at home, received a bullet injury on his arm," the police spokesperson said.
The officials believe that the attack was carried out by three militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit. Following the incident, the police claimed they cordoned off the area and began a search to find the attackers. A case was also registered to investigate the incident.
The condition of Bhat's nephew, Farhan, is said to be stable following his treatment at a nearby government hospital.
The 35-year-old victim worked as a television artist but was more popular through her social media presence, especially YouTube and Instagram.
The attack is the second such incident since Monday in which suspected militants carried out a targeted killing and left a family member of the victim injured. Earlier, militants shot dead a policeman Saifullah Qadri near his home in the Soura area of Srinagar in an attack in which his 9-year-old daughter also suffered a bullet wound in her hand.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said he was "shocked" by the attack, adding that there can be no justification for attacking innocent women and children like this.
"Her nephew is a young 10-year-old boy. Yesterday it was a police constable's daughter injured in an attack & today, this young 10-year-old child. How does anyone justify these attacks?" Omar tweeted.
Since Qadri's killing, as many as nine killings, including six militants and another cop, have been reported from the region, which is witnessing an upheaval despite increased security measures by the authorities. Many termed the artists' killing as a reminder of how things are bad in Kashmir.
"The killing of Amreena Bhat in Kashmir is a painful reminder that things are not OK. Another young life was lost to those who instilled fear. Who knows what lies ahead," Congress leader Salman Anees Soz tweeted.
Tensions have spiked in Jammu and Kashmir as targeted killings have led to a scare in people and the security establishment. The situation remains tense despite continued military operations and heightened measures, including a severe crackdown against all those designated 'hostile' by the security agencies in the valley.
The security forces have carried out two major military operations in the last 24-hours in which six militants and a policeman were killed, the officials said.
In the first operation at North Kashmir's Baramulla, the police and army said three foreign militants believed to be from the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit were killed in the Kreeri area.
The policeman who was also killed in the gunfight was identified as Mudasir Ahmad Sheikh. The slain militants were identified as Ali Bhai, Hanief Bhai and Shah Wali – all the residents of Pakistan.
In another gunfight reported on Thursday morning, the officials said three militants believed to be part of LeT were killed in North Kashmir's border village of Kupwara's Jamagund area.
"All three terrorists killed, affiliated with proscribed terror outfit LeT. Identification is being ascertained. Incriminating materials including arms & ammunition recovered," IGP Kashmir was quoted as saying in a tweet by Kashmir police.