At least 4 killed as BSF men open fire on protesters in J&K town

FPBodies lie in Gool in Ramban district on Thursday

As news of the firing spread, shops shut down in Srinagar and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik came out on the streets to protest. He was arrested along with his supporters near Budshah Bridge.

Malik has called a bandh on Friday and asked people to converge at Lal Chowk after prayers. Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for a three-day shutdown. Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq described the deaths as "cold blooded murder" of peaceful people.

Clashes broke out in Maisuma in Srinagar. Several areas in the Chenab Valley and towns along the Jammu-Srinagar highway saw violence. In Ramban, a number of government vehicles were set on fire, and the deputy commissioner's office was stoned. Police closed the Jawahar tunnel, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded on the national highway.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the killings were unacceptable. "It is unfortunate that inspite of costly lessons learnt in 2008 and 2010 some amongst us are determined to repeat past mistakes and use force against unarmed protesters. Such incidents risk throwing the entire peaceful atmosphere in jeopardy," Omar said.

"There is no justification or rationalization of this deplorable act. This shocking act warrants and demands the severest of condemnation in the strongest possible terms," he said.

Minister of State for Home Sajjad Kitchloo and the state DGP visited Gool and tried to pacify the residents.

Home Minister Shinde, who was monitoring the situation, said, "I sincerely regret the unfortunate incident... The loss of lives... is particularly saddening and I offer my deep condolences to the bereaved families. I have ordered an enquiry... I assure that any use of excessive force or irresponsible action shall be dealt with strictly."

(With Rahul Tripathi and Vijaita Singh in New Delhi)

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