3 LeT militants killed in overnight Pulwama encounter

Army major also injured

3 LeT militants killed in overnight Pulwama encounter
Three Lashkar-e-Toiba militants (LeT) were killed in an overnight encounter with security forces in Kakapora area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Thursday. 

An army major was also injured in the gunbattle that erupted late Wednesday evening after militants fired on a joint search party of army and police, who were laying a siege to New Colony, Kakapora, 26 km from here.

“As the house-to-house search was launched by the security forces, contact was established with militants at around 9 pm and an exchange of fire took place,” sources said and added an army major was hit by a bullet during the initial firing.

Reports said as the encounter was on, hundreds of people pelted stones at forces to help militants escape. Announcements were made over the public-address systems of the masjids, asking people to hit the streets to help the militants flee, reports added.

“The protesters tried to break the cordon to help militants flee, however, forces fired tear gas shells to disperse them even as they offered stiff resistance,” reports said. But there were no reports of any injuries.

An army officer said the cordon in the area was tightened during the night to ensure militants do not escape. " Reinforcements were rushed to the area to ensure that the militants don't escape taking advantage of the darkness. Early in the morning, the army made a final assault on the house where the militants were hiding and neutralised three ultras," he said and added two AK rifles and other ammunition was recovered from the encounter site.

The slain militants were identified as Shariq, Majid and Shabir, all residents of Pulwama district and affiliated to LeT.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, militants on Wednesday evening gave the slip to security forces amid protests and clashes in Hajin area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. A police official said following the tip-off about the presence of militants, forces cordoned off Hajam Mohalla, Hajin, 32 km from here and launched searches on Wednesday evening.

As soon as the cordon was being laid, the youth took to streets and pelted stones at forces to help militants escape, he said. The official said forces responded by firing teargas shells and pellets, triggering clashes which lasted for several hours. “Amid protests and clashes, militants managed to escape, forcing Army and police to call off the operation,” the official added.

The local residents obstructing security forces during the counter-insurgency operation in the Valley has become a routine in the last two years. The hostile residents come in the line of fire, distract security forces and pelt stones on them.

In several such cases, locals shielded the militants and helped them to break the security forces’ cordon and flee. Several protesters have also been killed in security forces firing during these clashes.

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