Anantnag: Two militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and an army soldier were killed in a gunfight that broke out after militants attacked an army convoy in Qazigund in south Kashmir on the Srinagar-Jammu highway on Monday. Another army soldier was injured in the attack, an army spokesperson said. Two civilians were wounded, one of them by a bullet, after stone-throwing protesters clashed with government forces near the gunfight site.
After attacking the army convoy, the militants had taken shelter in a residential house. Government forces blasted the house during the gunfight that took place int he afternoon.
“Two bodies have been retrieved from the debris of the house,” said Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, South Kashmir, SP Pani. He told Kashmir Reader that a search operation continues in the area and the slain militants are yet to be identified.
According to reports, militants opened indiscriminate fire at a Srinagar-bound army convoy in Bonigam village, near Qazigund, along the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
“The attack took place at about 1:20 PM, Monday afternoon,” a senior police officer posted in the area told Kashmir Reader. “One army man was injured (in the attack),” he said.
Local sources said that after firing at the army convoy, the militants tried to escape but the army soldiers deployed on the road to secure the highway followed them.
“The militants took refuge in a residential house in nearby Bhadragund village,” police sources said, adding that a cordon was soon laid around the house.
Reinforcements were rushed to the area to tighten the cordon, the police sources said.
“While the cordon was being laid, militants opened fire from their hiding place, triggering an encounter,” the senior police officer said.
After about an hour of exchange of gunfire, the government forces used IEDs to blast the house the militants were hiding in.
“The house was razed to the ground,” a local source told Kashmir Reader.
Despite the house being blasted, intermittent firing continued in the area for a while, before government forces moved in to clear the debris.
Sources said that the militants fired even when the forces were moving in to clear the debris but they were killed soon.
Army spokesperson Rajesh Kalia said that one soldier was killed in the operation and another was injured.
Clashes erupted in the area soon after the gunfight started. Government forces used tear smoke shells to disperse the protesting youth, but later resorted to firing pellets and bullets. A 23-year-old, Suhail Ahmad Khan, son of Mohammad Yaqoob, resident of Badragund Kulgam, sustained a bullet injury. He was admitted to Anantnag District Hospital where doctors said his condition was stable. Another youth, Obair Ahmad, resident of Vessu Kulgam, was hit by pellets in his eye. He has been referred to SMHS Hospital in Srinagar for treatment, local sources said.
In a statement, the Lashkar owned the attack and claimed that four army men were killed in it. The spokesman of the outfit said that the “Bashir Lashkari squad” had carried out the attack.