A 14-year-old boy was martyred along with 11 other freedom fighters in separate gunfights in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) during the last 72 hours, regional police said on Sunday.
Faisal Bashir was claimed to be associated with the Al-Badr group. He was martyred along with two other separatists in an overnight gunfight in Hadipora village.
Police, in a statement, claimed they made "sincere efforts" to make the 14-year-old surrender, and his family was also called on the encounter site to persuade him, but “his associates did not allow him to come out".
According to sources, Bashir was his parents' only son along with four daughters. He studied in class 10, and went missing three days ago.
Meanwhile, two freedom fighters were martyred in the early hours of the day in Bijbehara area of the disputed valley.
On April 9, seven separatists were martyred in Shopian and Pulwama districts.
At least 36 freedom fighters have been martyred in the restive region in 2021 so far, according to the police.
Azad Kashmir president condemns killings
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan has condemned the police "encounters", saying the cold-blooded killing of youths is the worst example of terrorism.
In a statement, he also urged the international community, particularly the UN, five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to call upon India to immediately stop the killing of defenceless Kashmiris.
Relations between India and Pakistan plummeted to a new low following the former's scrapping of the longstanding special status of IIOJK in August 2019.
The two neighbours, however, last month agreed to honour the 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) followed by an exchange of letters between the two premiers and unconfirmed reports of "backdoor" contacts to stem the escalating tensions.
Islamabad, nonetheless, has reiterated that the normalisation of ties with New Delhi is linked to review of the August 5 decision, and ultimate resolution of the Kashmir dispute.