Security personnel. Photo: PTI
Two militants were killed in an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district and a civilian died in clashes between locals and security forces following the gun-battle, officials said. Two soldiers, including an officer, were also injured in the initial firing by the militants, they said.
Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in the district's Drabgam area following information about the presence of two to three militants there, a police official said. The encounter broke out at 10:00 a.m. after a cordon and search operation (CASO) was launched by troops of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) 182 Battalion and 183 Battalion, along with 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) and Special Operations Group (SOG) Pulwama.
Two soldiers were injured in the initial firing, an Army official said, adding that the cordon has been strengthened. The official said two militants were killed by the forces and the operation to flush out any remaining militant was on when reports last came in.
One of the injured is a Major-rank officer, who has hit by a bullet in the arm. Both the injured soldiers have been evacuated to the Army's 92 base hospital for treatment.
The police official claimed that when the security forces were engaged in the gun-battle with the militants, a group of civilians started pelting stones at them to disturb the counter-insurgency operation.
Several protesters were injured in retaliatory action by the security forces, one of them died due to a bullet injury to his chest, the official said.
He has been identified as Shahid Ahmad Dar, the official said adding the circumstances in which the 25-year-old youth was killed are being ascertained.
Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists killed
Sameer 'Tiger' meets his end:
As the searches were going on, militants fired upon the security personnel. The forces retaliated leading to an encounter, the spokesperson said.
"During the encounter, two militants who were trapped inside the cordon, were neutralized and they have been identified as Sameer Ahmad Bhat alias Sameer Tiger Aqib and Mushtaq Khan, a local resident of Rajpora in Pulwama," the spokesperson added.
Bhat was recruited as an over ground worker by the banned Hizbul Mujahideen after he passed Class 8 since he had discontinued his education due to lack of interest, the spokesperson said.
He was involved in several stone pelting incidents prior to his militant activities, the official added. Bhat was active in the area since May 2016 and had played a part in several cases of atrocities on civilians in the area, the official said.
Bhat was involved in the firing incident on the residence of ex-MLA Syed Bashir Ahmad in Sheikhard and in a grenade attack on a 'naka' party at Hawal, Pulwama, police said.
"Besides his involvement was established in the kidnapping and firing on two civilians from Qasbayar in which one civilian Bashir Ahmad Dar died instantly while another Altaf Ahmad Dar was seriously injured. Last year he had indiscriminately fired upon a patrolling party of 44 RR besides he had also entered into the houses of civilians in south Kashmir
and forced them to issue video statements against the government and security agencies," the official said.
Bhat was a close confidante of Hizbul Mujahideen
commander Riyaz Naikoo and both had been spotted together in a video released recently on social media, the official added.
The other militant killed today, Aqib Mushtaq Khan, was active since July 2017. He also had plotted several attacks on the security establishments in south Kashmir
along with Bhat and was closely associated with him after joining the militant ranks, police said.
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