Three militants were killed in a gunfight with government forces in Pinglish village of southern Tral area on Sunday, an army spokesman said.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, the Srinagar-based army spokesman colonel Rajesh Kalia said: “Three militants have been killed in Pinglish. The operation is in progress.”
A source said the encounter has ended but the operation is “in progress” for the final searches as mandated under the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
A police official said that acting on “specific inputs” about presence of militants in Pinglish, the army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles, Jammu and Kashmir police and 180 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jointly cordoned off the area.
As soon as the forces zeroed in on a suspected house, the hiding militants opened fire, triggered a gunfight, he said.
During the gunfight, two women remained stuck inside a house adjacent to the encounter spot and were crying for help, local residents said.
The police however evacuated both the women to a “safe zone”, said senior superintendent of police Awantipora, Tahir Saleem Khan.
Locals said the house where the militants were trapped was razed to the ground.
Soon after the gunfight started, scores of youth attempted to break the cordon and tried to march towards the gunfight site in a bid to help the trapped militants escape, a witness said.
The youth clashed with the forces personnel, who, in turn, used teargas shells to disperse them, he said.
Massive clashes also erupted at bus stand area in main town Tral, where youths pelted the vehicles of forces with stones. The forces, in turn, lobbed tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters. As soon as the news of the encounter spread in the area, shopkeepers downed their shutters while traffic disappeared from the roads. Following the gunfight, authorities snapped the mobile internet service in the area.
Local residents said they heard heavy firing in the afternoon, followed by loud blasts, following an hour-long cordon-and-search operation (CASO) in the area.
Meanwhile, the identity of the slain militants was yet to be ascertained as their bodies are charred beyond recognition, a police source said.
The gunfight at Pinglish is second between militants and forces in Tral this week. On Monday, two local HizbulMujahideen militants, Irfan Ahmad Rather alias Abu Talib from Sharifabad locality and AdfarFayaz alias Abu Zarar of Gulshapora village of Tral, were killed in a gunfight in Tral-Payeen area.
“In the Pinglish encounter, so far, bodies of two militants have been retrieved from the site of encounter. From the incriminating materials recovered at the site of encounter, it is understood that the militants were affiliated with proscribed outfit JeM. Their identities are being ascertained. Search is going on at the site of encounter,” a police spokesman said in a statement.
“Incriminating material recovered from the site of encounter includes arms and ammunition. Police have registered a case in the matter. Citizens are requested not to venture inside encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials if any,” the statement read.