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2 militants killed in Handwara gunfight

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Encounter also claimed lives of 5 forces’ personnel, civilian

Srinagar, Mar 03: The gunfight raging since Friday between the militants and the government forces in Babagund are of Handwara in Kupwara district of north Kashmir ended on Sunday morning with the killing of two militants, officials said.

Five government forces' personnel, including a CRPF officer, and a civilian were also killed in the encounter which continued for 56-hours since Friday.

Eleven forces’ personnel including a CRPF officer were also injured in the gunfight.

While four government forces’ personnel and a civilian died in the gunfight Friday, on Sunday morning, a CRPF man identified as Shayam Narain succumbed, taking the number of forces’ personnel killed in the gunfight to five, said an official.

He said both the militants were killed on Sunday morning. "Their identity and group affiliations are being ascertained," said the official. He said bodies of both the militants were recovered from the site of the encounter.

The gunfight broke out soon after midnight on March 01 after a joint team of the police, army and the CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation.

A police spokesman said the operation at Babagund took time as it posed considerable difficulties to the government forces due to the topography of the area.

Two CRPF personnel, Inspector Pintu and Constable Vinod, and two cops, Selection Grade Constables Naseer Ahmad and Ghulam Mustafa Barah, were killed in the gunfight on Friday, the spokesman said.

He said one civilian, Waseem Ahmad Mir, also sustained bullet injury "in the nearby area" and later succumbed at a hospital on Friday.

The encounter had begun when government forces launched a search operation in Babagund area in north Kashmir, following information about presence of militants there.

"Area where the militants were hiding was very congested and civilians in the adjoining houses had to be evacuated to the safer places away from the site of encounter," police spokesman said.

He said incriminating materials, including arms and ammunition, were recovered from the site of encounter.

Police have registered a case in this matter and the incriminating materials have been taken in case records for further investigation, the spokesman added.

He urged people to not go near the encounter zone as there could be stray explosives.

"People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosives materials if any," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile the government forces on Sunday once again fired tear gas shells to chase away the protesters who were pelting them with stones during searches at the site of a gunfight in Babagund village.

Witnesses said the youth from adjoining villages were pelting the forces with stones as they were carrying out final searches at the site of the gunfight.

The forces, they said, were responding by firing tear-gas shells.

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