Militants managed to flee after exchanging fire with security forces in Kokernag area of Anantnag district on Saturday. A spontaneous shutdown was also observed in Anantnag town after people heard on the grapevine that a local militant was surrounded by the forces.
A police official told Greater Kashmir that a joint team of Army’s 19 RR and SOG men ring-fenced the Dehruna village in the small hours and launched a search operation, following the “definite information” about the presence of militants in the area.
He said that as the searches were being carried out, the militants hiding in the area opened fire on the forces. The forces immediately returned the fire, which led to a shoot-out.
He said that while the bullets were being exchanged between the two, many residents piled out of their homes and neared the troubled spot.
“They soon threw rocks over the forces in a bid to stymie the operation,” the official said and added that the forces responded by firing tear smoke shells and pellets to keep the stone-throwing residents at bay.
He said that after the initial exchange of firing, although there was a long lull, the forces continued the searches till afternoon.
The official, however, said that taking the advantage of darkness and intense stone pelting, militants, believed to be two to three in number, managed to flee.
“The operation was called off at around 12 pm,” he added.
Soon after the shootout, rumour mills went into overdrive about the presence of a local militant of Lashkar-e-Toiba Tariq Khan in the area, spelling a spontaneous shut down in Anantnag town.
Eye witnesses said that the rumours also unleashed a bout of clashes in the town as many young men took to streets at multiple locations in old areas of Borough and pelted stones and bricks on the forces who in turn responded by resorting to tear smoke shells and pellets.
“The youth mostly pelted stones at LalChowk, MattanAdda, CheeniChowk and along the KP road,” they said.
Some local residents said that six persons were also detained by the police. They also blamed the forces for allegedly causing damage to some residential houses.
Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, authorities also blocked the mobile internet services in the district.