Baramulla, Nov 9 (UNI) Major Virender Singh, three soldiers and five militants were killed in about 72-hour-long fierce gun-battle at Pattan in this district, a senior Army officer said today.
Talking to mediapersons in an Army camp at Pattan, after the encounter, Brigadier K A Mathana said the encounter ensued after a joint search party of Special Operation Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir police and the Army was attacked by the militants, hiding in some houses on November 7.
He said reinforcement was rushed and the area was sealed from all sides to foil any attempt by the militants to escape.
He said during on the same night three militants were killed. It was difficult to identify two of them who were burnt.
Brigadier Mathana said one more militant was killed by the troops yesterday morning.
Today fifth militant was killed when he came out from a house while firing indiscriminately, causing injuries to Major Singh, who was leading the troops from the front. He was immediately shifted to base hospital where he died.
Three other soldiers also laid down their lives in the encounter.
Official sources said more than a dozen houses were damaged in the encounter.
This was the first major encounter in the Kashmir valley after emergency was imposed in Pakistan.
About the operation, he said it prolonged because there were large number of civilians present in the nearby houses.
We had to rescue all the civilians before going all out against the holed up militants, he said while adding a number of civilians, including an engineer and few small children were rescued from the ''danger zone'' during the encounter by the security forces after they risked their lives.
Brigadier Mathana said militants were often shifting from one house to another during the encounter.
He said most probably the militants were foreigners, belonging to Pakistan based Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT).
Four AK rifles (one damaged), two pistols (one damaged) and other arms and ammunition were recovered from the slain militants.
The officer thanked the local population for extended full cooperation to the troops during the operation.
He said the entire area was properly searched and declared safe this afternoon.
However, people took to streets and blocked the Srinagar- Baramulla road for few hours in protest against the incident.
The demonstrators raised anti security force slogans and alleged that security forces looted valuables from their houses and later blasted them.