Clashes broke out in Indian-administered Kashmir valley after a key military leader, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, was shot dead by security forces on Saturday (27 May).

Bhat was the leader of extremist organisation, Hizbul Mujahideen, and had succeeded Burhan Wani, whose death in July 2016 was the pivotal point in fuelling a series of unrest in the valley.

In the latest incident, Bhat was among the two armed insurgents killed in a gunfight with security personnel in Kashmir's Tral area after the duo was trapped inside a house. Other extremists are also holed up in the building, but no information is available about them yet. Security forces launched the raid late on Friday, 26 May, which continued until early evening on Saturday.

Bhat's killing has forced authorities to step up security across several areas in the Jammu and Kashmir state.

Total shutdown is also announced in some parts to prevent more skirmishes. Internet services are also suspended as officials say the move is necessary to curb the flow of misinformation.

As soon as the news of Bhat's murder began to spread, protests erupted in areas such as Anantnag, Khanabal, Pulwama, Pampore, Tral and Kakapora. Stone-pelting is also reported in some of these areas with a majority of Kashmir state remaining volatile.

On Saturday, 27 May, the Indian army also killed six other armed men near the de facto border area known as Line of Control (LoC). Some of the killed are thought to be Pakistani border forces stationed in the frontier though Islamabad's military usually disputes these claims.

Bhat was seen as the successor of Wani, a young militant commander whose death triggered widespread anger among those living in Kashmir. Since Wani's death, the valley has claimed as many as 100 lives in protests and clashes.