Valley News Desk

3 militants killed, soldier injured in Bandipora encounter, Ops on: Police

*Para troopers, Marine Commandos pressed into service; Search operation on to rule out possibility of any other militant in area, ascertaining whether group had infiltrated, say officials*

Sajid Raina

Bandipora, Jul 24 (KNO): Three unidentified militants were killed while a soldier was wounded in a fierce gun battle in Shokbaba forest area of Sumlar in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, police said Saturday.

A police official said that the operation was still underway and massive searches are being launched to rule out the presence of any more militants. The official told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that acting on a specific lead about the presence of militants in Shokbaba forest area, joint teams of police, army’s 13, 14 and 14 RR and CRPF launched a search operation in the wee hours.

“As the forces intensified the searches, the hiding militants opened fire that retaliated, triggering an encounter,” the official said. “In the ensuing gunfight, two militants were killed while firing continued in the area.”

After a few hours of lull, the official said that contact was once again established with one more militant. “He was hiding under the cover of trees and bushes. After an intense exchange of fire, the third militant was also killed.”

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar told KNO that in total three unidentified militants have been killed and search operation is on. “One soldier was also injured in the initial exchange of fire who was evacuated to the army’s 92 base hospital,” the IGP said. Defence spokesman in Srinagar Colonel Emron Musavi also said that only one solider had sustained injuries who was evacuated to base hospital. He also said that the operation was underway.

Police sources said that it was being ascertained whether the slain militants had recently infiltrated or were hiding in the forest belt of Shokbaba range. “The area is on a height and covered by dense forest cover,” they said. Defence sources said that the operation took time given the fact that militants changed their first location from Shokbaba to Aragam where army’s 13 RR engaged them. “There is a tough terrain and the operation was a deliberate one,” they said. They search operation is on to rule out presence of any other hiding militant in the area even as the firing has stopped.

Meanwhile, a police spokesman in a statement said that on a specific input generated by Police regarding presence of militants in the forest area of Shokbaba Sumlar-Aragam area of Bandipora, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by Bandipora Police, 13RR, 14RR, Para (SF), MARCOS(Marine Commandos) and CRPF in the area.

“During the search operation, the hiding militants fired on the joint search party. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter. In the initial exchange of fire, one army personnel of 14RR received gunshot injuries. He was immediately evacuated to hospital for treatment of his injuries,” the spokesman said, adding that in the ensuing encounter, so far three unidentified militants were killed. “However, operation in the area is still going on. Further details shall be communicated as and when the operation will conclude,” the police spokesman said—(KNO)

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