SRI NAGAR: At least seven persons, including four militants, two Army personnel and a civilian were killed in a fierce gun battle in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Sunday, while a civilian died and about 20 others sustained injuries when security forces allegedly fired at a mob protesting near the site after the encounter ended.
J&K director general of police (DGP) S P Vaid told Express that on receiving information about the militants, police, Army and paramilitary personnel laid siege around Nagabal in Frisal in the district in the wee hours.
“During the search operation, the security personnel zeroed-in on a house, where a group of militants were hiding. However, during searches, they did not find anything. They searched the house again and came across nothing,” he said.
Vaid said it was during the third attempt that the militants were found hiding above a false ceiling in the house. “When the hideout was busted, militants fired at the personnel. The fire was returned by the troops and in the ensuing gunfight, four militants were killed.”
Two Army men and the house owner were also killed in the firing while three soldiers were injured, said the DGP adding that the injured soldiers have been hospitalised. The house, being used as a cover by the militants to fire at the troops was damaged. According to police, the four militants were all residents of Kulgam district.
Vaid said of the four militants, two belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen and two were from Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). The slain militants were identified as Mudassir Ahmad Tantrey alias Asim and Wakeel Ahmed Thokar, both from LeT, while Farooq Ahmed Bhat and Mohammad Younis Lone were Hizbul members.
According to police officers, all four militants had been active for the last two years.
DGP Vaid said three militants managed to escape from the area during the gunfight. “However, they have suffered bullet injuries and an operation has been launched to track them down.”
The deceased soldiers were identified as 33-year-old Lance Naik Bhandoriya Gopal Singh of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and sepoy Rahubeer Singh, 30, R/o Chamoli, Uttarakhand. The deceased civilian was identified as 40-year-old Ashiq Reshi, son of the house-owner Abdul Majeed Reshi.
Civilian Mushtaq Ahmad (22) of Srigufwara, Bijbehara succumbed to his injuries later. Two other critically injured civilians were referred to Srinagar hospital for specialised treatment.
Separatist leaders have called for a shutdown on Monday in protest against the civilian killings.