Srinagar: Four terrorists have been killed in a 10-hour encounter in Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam that started last night. The encounter - at Frisal village, around 60 km from Srinagar -- has also claimed the lives of two soldiers and a man in whose house the terrorists had holed in. Three other soldiers have been injured.
The encounter was followed by massive clashes between the protestors and police, in which at least two dozen people were injured. Most of them sustained bullet injuries and four of them were shifted to Srinagar for treatment. One of the injured men, 25-year-old Mushtaq Ibraheem, died in the district hospital.
"The police did not allow protesters to break the cordon and go to the spot of encounter... there was stone pelting... bullets and pellets were used to disperse the protestors," said SP Vaid, the state police chief.
According to top army sources, the group of seven terrorists - belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba -- had gathered at the house for a meeting. Three managed to escape, one of them in an injured state, after the security forces struck the hideout late last night.
"We have killed four terrorists -- two each from Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba. It is a big success for the army and would definitely dampen the morale of the terrorists," said Brigadier R Chakarwarty.
South Kashmir is the hub for homegrown terrorism. Since July last year, 59 locals have joined the ranks of terrorists, say officials. The anti-terror operations had stopped during five months of unrest following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani but had resumed after the protests fizzled out.
"Terrorism is perpetuated and sponsored by Pakistan. The Indian army has proved it is the best," said Union Minister Jitendra Singh.
In winter, the infiltration levels drop primarily because the passes at the Line of Control are blocked by snow. But inside the Kashmir valley, there is no let-up in violence.
On February 4, an encounter took place in north Kashmir's Baramulla district, in which two terrorists were killed. Two policemen had been injured in the exchange of fire, which started after security forces were tipped off about the presence of terrorists.