3 militants killed in J&K gunfight

A report said that he succumbed to his injuries in the hospital later during the day.

Srinagar: Three militants were killed and an equal number of Army jawans injured in a gunfight in Jammu and Kashmir’s southern Pulwama district on Thursday.

The slain militants, the police said, belonged to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Muhammad outfits and were wanted in connection with “a series of terror crimes, including attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities”.

They have been identified as Zubair Ahmad Bhat, alias Abu Huraira, Shakoor Ahmad Parray, alias Jaffar, and Tawseef Ahmad Thoker, alias Abu Talha-all, local Kashmiris.

The police and Army sources said that the security forces, including the Army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles, local police’s counterinsurgency special operations group and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), laid siege to Gulshanpora forest of Pulwama’s Tral area after receiving specific input about the presence of militants there.

“On reaching the suspected spot, the militants hiding in the woods in the higher reaches of Tral opened fire on the security forces. The fire was returned, triggering the encounter,” a police official said.

One of the three Army jawans injured in the fighting was airlifted to the garrison town of Udhampur where he was admitted to the Army’s command hospital for specialised treatment.

A report said that he succumbed to his injuries in the hospital later during the day. However, defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia in a brief WhatApp message to this newspaper said, “The news in some sections of the media of a soldier being martyred is incorrect. The injured soldier is under treatment.”

Two other injured soldiers are being treated at Srinagar’s 92-Base Army Hospital. The police sources said that the soldiers were wounded in the initial exchange of fire with the militants.

The killings of militants sparked off protests by irate crowds at several places in Pulwama district including Tral and Awantipora. The security forces fired teargas canisters and pellet shotguns to quell the stone-pelting mobs at three places, leaving about a dozen persons injured, reports said.

Meanwhile, the security forces on Thursday evening launched a cordon-and-search operation at Ladoora in neighbouring Shopian district following reports about the presence of militants in the village. The operation was going on as reports last came in.

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