Four militants and an army para commando were killed while three other soldiers sustained injuries in a gunfight in Shopian district on Tuesday, even as at least 10 civilians including three girls were wounded in clashes that erupted near the site of the gun-battle.
A police official told Greater Kashmir that a joint team of the army, special operations group of Jammu and Kashmir police and Central Reserve Police Force laid a siege around Nadigam village late on Monday night following “specific information” about the presence of militants in the area.
As the search operation was launched, militants opened fire on the forces from a residential house, he said, adding that the forces returned the fire, triggering a firefight that lasted for around five hours.
Four army soldiers were wounded in the initial exchange of firing and one of them later succumbed, the official said.
The slain militants, belonging to HizbulMujahideen, were identified by the police as Malik ZadaInam-ul-Haq from Mantujan, Basharat Ahmad Nengroo from Chotigam, Mehraj-ud-Din from Drawni, Zainpora and AbidNazirChopan from Padarpora.
The slain soldier was identified as Vijay Kumar of army’s 23 Para.
The gunfight, according to the official, lasted for around five hours.
Soon after the gunfight ended and forces were leaving the area, people came out of their homes and pelted stones on them, the official said, adding that “some civilians” were injured in what he called the “retaliatory action”.
An official at district hospital Shopian said they received 10 people with pellet and bullet injuries.
Three of them were girls, he said, adding that six injured persons were referred to general specialty SMHS hospital in Srinagar for specialised treatment.
He identified the injured girls as Simran Jan, daughter of Manzoor Ahmad of Katipora, and Menu Jan, daughter of Muhammad Ahsan of Nadigam.
While Simran received a bullet in her abdomen, Menu was hit in her right leg, the official said.
He identified other two persons who sustained bullet injuries as Rafia Jan and Jahangir Ahmad, who were being treated at district hospital Shopian.
The official said four persons with pellet injuries were also referred to the SMHS hospital.
As the bodies of slain militants reached their native villages, thousands of people in droves from adjoining and far-off places gathered there and participated in their last rites.
After multiple rounds of funeral prayers, all the four militants were laid to rest at their ancestral graveyards.
Both Shopian and Pulwama districts observed a complete shutdown to mourn the killing of militants. All business establishments and educational institutions remained closed while traffic was off the roads, according to a group of witnesses.
Scores of youth at multiple locations in Pulwama and Shopian clashed with government forces. The latter responded by firing tear smoke shells and pellets. However, no casualties or injuries were reported.