Five militants were killed in a fierce gunfight with Army and Police here, officials said Sunday.
The gunfight broke out during the wee hours after the government forces cordoned off the area and zeroed in on a suspected locality.
“No sooner we reached the suspected house to carry out searches, the militants hiding inside fired at us, thereby triggering a gunfight,” a Police official said. “In the standoff that lasted for six hours, five militants were gunned down.”
The slain militants were identified as Waseem Bashir Rather alias Zeeshan, a native of Ashmuji village of Kulgam; Zahid Parray of Gopalpora village in Damhal Hanji Pora area of Kulgam; Idrees Bhat, a native of Arwani village of Anantnag; Aaqib Nazir of Zangalpora Kulgam and Parvaiz Bhat of Mukdampora Qaimoh, Kulgam.
Waseem, a Ph.D. scholar, had joined rebel ranks on May 23, Zahid on September 28, Aaqib had become active March 18 and Parvaiz had joined the militant outfit on July 5 last year.
All the killed militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen group.
As the gunfight was on, locals clashed with the government forces, throwing stones and brickbats in a bid to break off the cordon and help militants escape.
However, Police fired dozens of tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets in air to disperse the protesters.
At least 10 persons were injured in the action by the government forces.
Eight among the 10 injured were admitted at District Hospital Kulgam while two others were treated locally.
“Eight persons with pellet injuries were brought to our hospital, who had pellet injuries in different parts of the body. Two among them were referred to SMHS hospital as they had pellet injuries in the eyes,” Superintendent D H Kulgam Ghulam Muhammad Bhat said.
Authorities suspended mobile internet services in the district fearing it would help mobilize protestors in the area.
Angry protesters thrashed a local freelance photojournalist, Shah Junaid, who had gone to the area to cover the gunfight.
“Someone from the crowd of mourners shouted that ‘he has a CCTV camera fitted in his lens’ and the protesters, without giving it a second thought, pounced at me, beating me ruthlessly,” Junaid said.
The bodies of all the militants were handed over to their respective families and the funerals were going on till late evening.