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4 soldiers, cop, 3 militants, civilian killed in Pulwama encounter

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Brigadier, DIG among many injured

The residential houses, where the militants were holed up, caught fire during the encounter in Pinglana in Pulwama district. Photo/Javed Khan

Pulwama/Srinagar, Feb 18: Three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants, four soldiers of army and a head constable of J&K Police besides a civilian were killed in a 16-hour encounter in Pinglana area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Monday.

The gun battle also resulted in injuries to Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Kashmir) Amit Kumar, a Brigadier, a Lt Colonel, a Major and four other ranks of the Army unit which carried the operation some 12 km away from Thursday's suicide attack on CRPF personnel which left 49 personnel dead.

Police sources said they were on the lookout for Kamran, the ‘divisional commander’ of Jaish-e-Mohammed for Pulwama, Tral and Awantipora areas of south Kashmir, after a suicide bomber belonging to the militant group drove his explosives-laden vehicle and detonated himself near a CRPF bus last week.

The Pinglana encounter claimed the lives of four Army personnel, a policeman, three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants and a civilian Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat, son of Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, the officials said.

The killed militants were identified as Kamran Ahmad and Fahad Ali Furka, both Pakistani nationals and a local, Hilal Ahmad, a resident of Pinglana.

The slain soldiers were identified as Major V S Dhondial, Havaldar Sheo Ram and Sepoys Hari Singh and Ajay Kumar. Abdul Rashid, Head Constable of the police from Tanghdar area of Kupwra was also killed.

The injured included DIG (south Kashmir) Amit Kumar, who received a gunshot wound in his thigh, and a brigade commander, who suffered injury in the leg. All the injured are stable, the officials said.

Giving details, the officials said that an input was received about presence of the Jaish militants in the area.

A cordon-and-search operation was initiated at around 1:00 am during the preceding night, during which hiding militants fired at the army party that resulted in the death of the major and other personnel in the early hours of Monday. Thereafter, forces concentrated on the house from where the firing was coming and killed two militants -- Kamran and Hilal.

As the mopping up exercise was continuing, the third militant started firing, resulting in injuries to other personnel, police sources said.

The third militant, Furkan, continued to move from house to house and carried out surprise attacks that resulted in injuries to the DIG and Brigade Commander as well as another Major.

According to local residents of Pinglana, some gunshots were heard during the night and later firing resumed in the morning and continued in intervals throughout the day.

"As the encounter was underway scores of youth assembled near the gunfight site, resulting in clashes between forces and youth,” they said.

According to witnesses, police deployed near the encounter site were using public address systems urging the youth to stay away from the encounter site.

Residents of Pinglena informed that three residential houses were also destroyed in the encounter – including the one belonging to the slain civilian.

A complete shutdown was observed in Pulwama town and its adjacent villages soon after the encounter started in Pinglana. Internet services were also suspended.

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