A young, unarmed army officer was kidnapped by terrorists from a family wedding last night and killed in Jammu and Kashmir. Ummer Fayaz, a 22-year-old Lieutenant of the Rajputana Rifles, had joined the army five months ago. His body was found early this morning in Shopian, around 30 km from his village, with bullets in his head and abdomen.

The officer, a Kashmiri, was on leave and had gone for his cousin’s wedding at his village in Kulgaon in south Kashmir when he was kidnapped around 10 pm. His family, too terrified to report it, had hoped that he would be sent back alive. Hundreds turned up this morning as the festivities turned tragic for the family.

“Young and full of life, the officer was just commissioned in December. The troops enjoyed being with him,” army sources said. Ummer Fayaz was fresh out of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and knew the risks, but “didn’t think twice about going to his village unarmed”, they said.

He was in the NDA hockey team and said to be an excellent volleyball player. According to the army, he was tipped to go for a Young Officers’ course in September.

Sources say the brutal killing marks a worrying trend of terrorists targeting army officers even when they are off duty.

An advisory was recently put out by the state police asking its personnel not to visit their ancestral homes, especially in south Kashmir areas. There has been a spike in militant activities in districts like Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam.

In south Kashmir, local support is evident for terrorists who have been openly roaming the countryside. The police say public support for terrorists is a massive problem for security forces who have frequently encountered resistance from crowds while fighting terrorists.

Last week, security forces faced resistance when it carried out a huge anti-terror operation across two dozen villages in Shopian. Terrorists struck at the fag end of the operation, killing one civilian and leaving two soldiers wounded.

Two days later, a policeman, Azhar Mehmood, was killed in Anantnag along with three civilians by Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Fayaz Ahmad Aishwar. Azhar Mehmood was attacked while he and other policemen were regulating traffic after a road accident.

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