All the relatives of police personnel kidnapped by militants in India-administered Kashmir this week have been freed, official sources said on Saturday.
The abduction of 10 family members was carried out on Wednesday and Thursday in three districts of southern Kashmir in retaliation for earlier police arrests of the militants' relatives.
Those arrested included Asadullah Naikoo, the father of top Hizbul Mujahideen group commander Riyaz Naikoo. Two homes belonging to militants were also set on fire, leading to protests in the region.
All family members of the policemen were released unharmed by late Friday, a local official said, hours after Naikoo and an unspecified number of other militants' kin were freed.
Senior politicians said such kidnappings - which are rare in Kashmir - marked a dangerous "new low" in the insurgency-hit region.
"Families shouldn't become casualties and [be] made to suffer for something they have little control over," former state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said.
Authorities had earlier decided to launch a major counter-insurgency operation to check such kidnappings but the decision was put on hold due to fears that the abducted persons could be harmed in case of a large-scale operation, the IANS news agency reported.
India-administered Kashmir has faced a violent secessionist movement since the late 1980s that has claimed the lives of 44,760 people, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.
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