- Sabzar Bhat among 2 killed in encounter in Tral, 6 killed in Rampur
- Dozens injured in clashes as protests break out as news of death spreads
- Bhat's death major win for forces, day after foiled infiltration attempt
The operation in south Kashmir's Pulwama district started after terrorists attacked an Army patrol at Tral's Saimu village last evening. There was a heavy exchange of fire this morning after the terrorists changed their hideout because the house they were originally hiding in was set on fire by security forces. Two terrorists including Hizbul commander Sabzar Ahmad Bhat were killed.
Soon after the encounter was over, hundreds of villagers rushed to Saimu village and clashed with the security forces.
One person was killed in Tral as huge protests broke out in the valley after news of the death - seen as a major setback to the terrorist network - spread. Protesters clashed with law enforcement in Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, Tral and Srinagar leaving dozens of people injured.
Mobile internet services that were briefly restored this morning were snapped again. Shops, schools and colleges in many parts of the state closed down. Violent protests had broken out last year in July after Burhan Wani was killed, leaving more than 100 people dead and over 12,000 injured.
"Curfew will be imposed tomorrow in seven police station areas of the city as a precautionary measure," Farooq Lone, District Magistrate, Srinagar told PTI. Students appearing for the common entrance examination will be allowed on the streets on Sunday but educational institutions will remain closed on Monday, he said.
According to the Army, a group of infiltrators was detected just as they were trying to cross over at the LoC in the Rampur sector of Baramulla district. But the Army let them enter some 700 metres inside Indian territory to make it impossible for them to run back into Pakistan occupied Kashmir before engaging them. They were killed in the encounter without the Army suffering any casualties.
But Saturday's success along the border also demonstrated the challenge ahead for the security forces. Earlier this week, the Army had spoken about how infiltration attempts are likely to spike with the melting of snow and opening of passes and had declared it would too carry out "more proactive counter-terrorism operations".
According to army sources, the infiltrators had moved from a single launch pad close to the LoC and there are eight active terrorist launch pads across the border just in the Uri sector. "Our devices and boys tracked movement of infiltrators but due to thick cover there were some difficulties. We made the ambush at a selected place. When they intruded towards the Indian side, we eliminated all six terrorists", said Samarjit Ray, Commanding Officer, Rampur sector.
Rampur sector is next to the Uri sector where the Army on Friday foiled an attack by Pakistan's Border Action Team or BAT. Army officers told NDTV that the intruders were looking to kill and behead Indian soldiers - as they have done in the past - or target patrols or posts located along the Line of Control.