Two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed in an encounter with forces at Lal Chowk area of Anantnag district in south Kashmir on Wednesday.
The locals said forces cordoned off the Lal Chowk area at around 11:30 pm last night.
They said the troops conducted door-to-door searches in a cluster of houses at Mehman Mohalla.
“At around 4.30 am, the gunfight erupted after militants fired on the search party. The intermittent gunfight continued till 7:30 am. However, afterwards intense exchange of gunfire took place between the two sides and it continued for couple of hours. Some huge blasts also rattled the area during the encounter,” the locals said.
In the gunfight which ended in the afternoon, two Lashkar militants were killed.
The deceased militants were identified as Bilal Ahmad Dar alias Bin Yamin Dar son of Mohammad Yousuf Dar of Sofi Mohalla Khudwani Kulgam and Abid Hussain Bhat son of Wali Bhat of Doda.
Bilal had joined militancy in June 2017 while Abid, a 12th class pass student had joined Lashkar on July 1 this year.
The window panes of four houses were damaged during the gunfight.
Witnesses said as the gunfight raged, militants came out on the balcony of the house and tried to engage the forces in the open.
“However, a direct hit by a RPG shell killed both the militants instantly after they were spotted by the forces,” they said.
A short mobile visual of the incident was also captured by a local and it got viral on social media.
As the gunfight erupted, authorities suspended mobile internet services in the Anantnag and troops sealed all the entry and exit points to Anantnag town by placing concertina wires and armoured vehicles on the roads.
The troops enforced an undeclared curfew in the town to prevent people from marching towards the town.
After the encounter started, youth from adjoining areas tried to break the cordon and march towards the encounter site. They pelted stones on the force personnel, who resorted to aerial firing and fired tear smoke shells to disperse them.
The mild clashes erupted at Kadipora, Danter Bridge, Malaknag and Chee areas. However, these were swiftly quelled by the police.
Two persons including a cop and a civilian sustained injury during post encounter clashes, said a medico at District Hospital Anantnag.
“We received two injured. One of them identified as Haris had received a stone injury on nose while a policeman had an injury in the head after being hit by a stone. Both had minor injuries and were discharged instantly after being provided the treatment”, the medico said.
A police official said the encounter got delayed as forces exercised maximum restraint to minimize the collateral damage in a congested Mehman Mohalla locality as use of heavy explosives could have engulfed the entire area.
It was the first encounter in the Anantnag town after over a decade. The last encounter in Anantnag town had taken place in Malaknag area in 2006 in which two militants and an army man were killed.
A police spokesman said one of the slain militant Bilal was involved in a series of militant acts.
“Some arms and ammunition were recovered from the encounter site,” he said.
Meanwhile, one of the slain militant Bilal Dar was laid to rest at his native place in Khudwani area of Kulgam district.
Three back-to-back funerals were held for the slain youth. Two masked militants appeared during the funeral prayer and offered gun salute to their fallen associate.
Father of Bilal, Mohammad Yousuf, appealed mourners not to observe any shutdown on his son’s ‘martyrdom’.
“I request all of you not to observe shutdown on my son’s martyrdom. My son had made a will and had told me that there should be no strike in his native place after his death. No one should be disallowed to pass through this area and total discipline should be maintained,” requested Yousuf.
After the burial of local militant at Khudwani, youth clashed with the force personnel, who fired pellets and tear smoke shells.
Seven youth sustained injuries during the clashes and were referred to PHC Qaimoh.