Violence escalates in Kashmir; 11 ultras, 2 soldiers killed

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Srinagar, Nov 16 (UNI) In stepped up violence across the strife-torn Kashmir valley, eleven militants, including a top commander and majority of them from Pakistan, two soldiers and three infiltrators were killed in separate gun-battles, officials said today.

Of the eleven militants, six belonging to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) were killed during a fierce gunfight in Lolab forests of Kupwara district in north Kashmir.

Defence spokesman Lt Col A K Mathur said troops of 18 and 28 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) besides special forces launched a search operation in Lolab forest area after they noticed some suspicious movement early today.

When challenged, the militants opened heavy volume of fire on the troops with automatic weapons, he added.

The fire was retaliated, leading to a fierce gunfight between the troops and the ultras, the spokesman added.

In the ensuing encounter, he said six HuM militants, including a self-styled district commander, and two soldiers, were killed.

The slain militants have been identified as Sajjad alias Chacha, the self-styled district commander for north Kashmir, Shakeel, Qari Ajmal, Qari Samiullah and Tahir (all from Pakistan). A local militant, Firdous Ahmed Dar alias Zahid, was also killed in the operation, the spokesman said.

A large quantity of arms and ammunition, including six AK 47 rifles, 22 magazines, 601 rounds of AK 47 ammunition, one wireless set, eight hand grenades, one mobile set, two mobile batteries, Rs 2017 (Indian Currency), Rs 100 (Pak Currency) and four dairies were seized from the possession of the slain militants, he added.

The spokesman said two 18 RR soldiers also sacrificed their lives during the operation.

In another gunfight, he said troops of 10 PARA killed a militant at Shogbaba in Bandipora area of Baramulla district last night.

The personnel of 2 PARA and the police killed a militant in yet another gunfight at Gund-e-Machar in Kupwara district today. An AK rifle, five magazines and 139 rounds were seized from the encounter site, the spokesman added.

Security forces foiled an infiltration bid when they gunned down three militants soon after they sneaked into this side from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the Machil sector of Kupwara district last night. Some arms were also seized during the operation.

A gun-battle erupted between militants and security forces in Pranhal area of Kulgam district early this morning.

The encounter ensued after a joint party of the police and 9 RR raided a militant hideout in the area.

However, the militants managed to escape from the scene. One gas cylinder was seized from the site, the spokesman said.

UNI

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