Two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militants were killed in a predawn gunfight with the security forces on Wednesday in Damhal Hanjipora area of Kulgam district.
The deceased were identified as Zahid Ahmad Mantoo son of Bashir Ahmad Mantoo from Feeripora, Shopian, and Irfan Manzoor son of Manzoor Ahmad Bhat of Paonwhi, Kulgam.
“Zahid was active from 25 August, 2018 while Irfan had joined militancy on 5 April this year,” an official said.
A police official said that acting on a credible input, the forces launched a cordon and search operation in Gopalpora village.
“During the search operation, the hiding militants fired on the search party. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter,” he said.
The five-hour-long gunfight, which began at 3am, finally ended after the security forces blew up the house the militants were hiding in.
“Three houses were damaged in the gunfight, one of them completely,” a local resident told Greater Kashmir.
“Incriminating material including arms and ammunition was recovered from the site of encounter,” a police official said.
The bodies of both militants were later handed over to their families for last rites.
Multiple rounds of funerals were offered for both the militants in their native villages.
Zahid, 24, was a student of a religious seminary and a Hafizi Quran, one who has memorised the entire Quran. Irfan, 20, was pursuing graduation when he picked up arms.
Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed in entire Kulgam to mourn the killing of two militants.
The internet services in the district also remained suspended.
Today’s encounter was the seventh in this month of Ramdan. A total of 14 militants have been killed so far in these encounters. Two civilians also lost their lives during these gunfights.
Of the seven major gun-battles since May 10, five took place in Pulwama, Shopian, and Kulgam and one in Sopore area of Baramulla district.
In two other instances, the militants managed to flee after the initial exchange of fire in Anantnag and Shopian districts.