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J&K: 3 terrorists, 1 soldier, 7 civilians killed in encounter in Pulwama

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Srinagar, Dec 15: Three terrorists were gunned down in an encounter between them and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on Saturday. Initial reports suggest that jawan-turned-terrorist Zahoor Ahmad Thokar is also among the killed.

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Seven civilians were killed in the clashes that erupted after an encounter in South Kashmir's Pulwama district. More than 15 people were also injured after security forces reportedly fired live ammunition on the protesters near the site of the gunfight.

The security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in Sirnoo village in south Kashmir's Pulwama district after receiving specific intelligence input about the presence of terrorists in the area, a police official said.

"The terrorists opened fire on security forces while they were carrying out search operations," the official said.

The security forces retaliated, leading to an encounter, the official confirmed.

The search operation is still underway, and the entire area has been cordoned.

Mainstream political parties in Kashmir condemned the killing of civilians allegedly in security forces' action during an encounter in Pulwama district Saturday, saying Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration has "failed" to secure lives of the people.

No probe enough to bring back the dead innocent civilians.South Kashmir has been reeling under fear for the last 6 months.Is this what was expected from Gov rule? The admin has failed in securing civilian lives. Deepest condolences to the bereaved (sic)," PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.

She said no country can win a war by killing its own people.

"How long are we going to shoulder the coffins of our youngsters? So many civilians killed today post encounter in Pulwama. No country can win a war by killing its own people. I strongly condemn these killings, and once again appeal for efforts, to stop this blood bath (sic)," Mufti said in another tweet.

National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah said the encounter was "badly executed".

"6 civilians killed and numerous more injured, many critically. Any way you look at it this was a badly executed encounter. Protests around encounter sites are now the norm not the exception. Why are we unable to learn how to handle them better? (sic)" Omar tweeted.

"Another blood soaked weekend in Kashmir. 6 protestors killed, 1 solider killed in the line of duty. Together with the 3 militants from this morning's encounter that's 10 dead. Reports of many injured at the encounter site. What a horrible day! (sic)" he said in another tweet.

The NC leader said the Governor's administration appears "not doing anything on restoring peace" in the "troubled Valley".

"The administration of Governor Malik has one task & one task only - to focus on the security of the people of J&K & restore peace to a troubled valley. Sadly it appears that's the only thing the administration is not doing. Publicity campaigns & full page ads don't bring peace," he tweeted.

Separatist-turned-mainstream leader and former minister Sajad Lone said the administration needs to "seriously evaluate" the costs of such anti-militancy operations.

"Extremely disturbing news coming from Pulwama. The administration needs to seriously evaluate the costs of its operations. If there is even a remote chance of civilians getting killed during military operations it is better to call off such operations," Lone said in a tweet.

He expressed hope that the administration abandons "its Rambo mindset".

"My heartfelt thoughts with the families of those who lost their lives in Pulwama. I just pray that Almighty takes us out of the perpetual state of mourning that we seem to have been sucked into. And also hope that administration abandons its Rambo mindset," Lone said.

"The preparedness of security forces would in the Pulwama context be the ability to make the distinction between combatants and non-combatants. If u end up killing 7 civilians in order to kill 3 militants. It is time for heads to roll. We can't afford a state of impunity," he said in another tweet.

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