SRINAGAR: Four persons, including two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants and a policeman, were killed in a gunfight in Fateh Kadal area of downtown Srinagar on Wednesday.
Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said police and paramilitary personnel laid a siege around the congested Fateh Kadal area in downtown Srinagar in the early hours after receiving information that some militants were hiding there.
While the security personnel were laying the siege around the area and zeroing in towards the house where militants were hiding, the search party came under fire from militants.
"In the firing, a policeman named Kamal Kishore was killed," the DGP said.
He said the security personnel retaliated and fired towards the militants' positions.
"The firefight continued till the morning and three bodies were recovered from the house, from where militants were firing on security men," the DGP said.
Two policemen and a CRPF jawan were injured in the gunfight and have been hospitalised.
The deceased were identified as Lashkar commander Mehraj-ud-Din Bangroo alias Asif alias Piya, his accomplice Faid Mushtaq Waza and Rayees Ahmad, son of the owner of house where the encounter took place.
A police official said they were investigating the role of Rayees.
"The complicity of Rayees, who was part of the group providing shelter and logistics to the militants is being investigated," he said.
The official termed the killing of Bangroo a major setback for LeT. "He was active since 2015 and involved in many militant attacks and weapon snatching incidents in the Valley," he said.
The family members of Rayees rejected police claim and alleged that their son was used as a human shield by the troops.
Meanwhile, at least 10 journalists, including video journalists covering the encounter, were beaten up by security personnel.
The security personnel also fired some rounds in the air to scare away the journalists.
Several media organisations, including Kashmir Editors Guild, Jammu and Kashmir Editors Forum, Kashmir Press Club, Kashmir Journalist Association, and Kashmir Press Photographers Association, condemned the police action and demanded action against those involved in the assault on the media persons.
A senior police official said they were looking into the issue.
After the encounter ended, parts of Srinagar observed a shutdown, while in some areas youths took to the streets and clashed with security personnel, who fired tear smoke shells and resorted to baton charges to disperse them.
Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik have called for a shutdown tomorrow to protest the killings.
Meanwhile, militants travelling in a passenger bus lobbed a grenade towards a police party after the vehicle was stopped for checking at Baba Teng, Pattan in north Kashmir's Baramulla district, a police spokesman said.
"In the grenade attack, DySP Zaffar Mehdi and two policemen Shabir Ahmad and Ashiq Hussain sustained injuries. They are hospitalised," he said.
The spokesman said militants trying to flee were chased by the security men. "During the chase, security men managed to arrest one of the escaping militants, Faizan Majeed Bhat," he said.
The spokesman said Faizan belonged to Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen.