13 ultras, four civilians killed in Kashmir encounters

3 soldiers martyred; Valley on edge; mobile internet suspended

13 ultras, four civilians killed in Kashmir encounters

In one of the most violent days in recent years, 13 militants, four civilians and three army personnel were killed in three separate gun battles and subsequent clashes in south Kashmir's Shopian and Anantnag districts on Sunday.

More than 100 civilian protesters were injured in clashes that erupted near the encounter sites while a militant surrendered before the security forces.

'Earlier in the day, Director General of Police Shesh Pal Vaid said, "Eight terrorists were killed in three encounters. A few police, CRPF and Army personnel were also injured in the encounters. While 25 civilians sustained pellet injuries, six others suffered bullet injuries."

Three army soldiers were also killed in the gunfight at Kachdoora.

"We caught one terrorist alive and one was killed in Dialgam, Anantnag. A few police, CRPF and army personnel also suffered injuries," Vaid, who was flanked by Lt Gen A K Bhatt, commander of the army's Srinagar-based 15 Corps, told reporters.

Later, Vaid tweeted that bodies of three more militants were found in Kachdoora, Shopian. Sources said bodies of two more militants were retrieved from the encounter site, while two ultras managed to escape.

Vaid said all seven militants killed in Dragad, Shopian, were locals and their bodies have been claimed by their families.

The slain militants are Zubair Turray, Ishfaq Ahmad Malik, Yawar Itoo, Nazim Ahmad Dar, Adil Ahmad Thoker, Ubaid Ahmad Malla and Riyaz Ahmad Thokar - all residents of Shopian.

The identity of the three militants killed in Kachidoora is yet to be established.

The local media reported that three civilians - Zubair Bhat, Mehraj-Ud-Din Bhat and Iqbal Bhat - were killed and over 100 others were injured after they tried to march towards the encounter sites in Dragad and Kachdoora.

Another victim was identified as Mushtaq Padroo.

A police spokesperson said the seven militants killed in Dragad encounter had joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen last summer and were involved in a series of attacks on civilians and security forces, including the killing of Lt Umer Fayaz.

While terming Sunday's operation as one of the biggest in recent times, Lt Gen Bhatt said, "Today is a very special day for all our forces. The death of Lt Umar Fayaz, who was brutally killed in Shopian last year, has been avenged. Among the militants killed are Ishfaq Malik and Rayees Thokar. They were responsible for his death."

In the wake of civilian and militant killings, authorities suspend railway services to and from south Kashmir. Mobile internet services were also blocked across the Valley.

The militant killings have pushed Kashmir on the edge with separatists calling for a strike on Monday.

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