Two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants died while two policemen were injured in a gunfight in MalwariNewa village of South Kashmir's Pulwama district on Thursday, police said. At least 25 persons including 10 policemen were wounded in massive clashes which erupted during and after the gun-battle.
A police official said following inputs about presence of some militants in MalwariNewa village, Special Operations Group of Police, army and CRPF jointly cordoned off the
area and started a search operation. During searches, the forces fired some warning shots and some militants present in the village came out from a residential house and fired upon them, triggering an encounter, he said.
The exchange of firing continued for about two hours and ended with the death of two militants, the official said. "Two cops were also injured in the encounter."
Police identified the slain militants as Manzoor Ahmad Dar (21), a resident of GundiBaghKakporaPulwama and 'Abu Ayaan' from Pakistan.
Manzoor Ahmad was a Sumo driver earlier and had joined the militant ranks only a few weeks ago, according to police. The residential house, where the two militants were holed up, was damaged during the encounter.
Police sources said a group of four LeT militants had come to Pulwama from North Kashmir and included the two militants who carried out the Pampore attack before being killed, and the third among them was today killed along with Manzoor Dar.
Meanwhile, police have informed people not to go near the encounter site as some explosive shells could be lying there, a senior officer said.
As the news about the gunfight spread, people from different areas rushed to the spot and started pelting stones on the forces to break the cordon and help the hiding militants flee, witnesses said. Soon, the encounter site was surrounded from all sides by hundreds of youth who heavily pelted stones on the forces.
On one side, the forces were clashing with youth and on the other, the encounter was on.
As the news about the death of two militants spread, the clashes intensified as more youth from Kakapora, Pulwama, Newa, Gundibagh and other areas reached here and clashed with forces.
Soon, massive clashes erupted in Newa and Kakapora areas which continued till evening.
Locals said the clashes were so intense that the roads were filled with stones and area was engulfed with tear-smoke, causing breathing problems for the residents.
In the meantime, following the death of two militants, shops were closed in Pulwama town and youth took to streets against the killings and pelted stones on the forces.
"The forces in retaliation lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the youth, triggering clashes," witnesses said.
The clashes continued for some time while shutdown was observed in the town till evening.
A shutdown was also observed in Lelhara, Kakapora, Pahoo and Samboora areas.
Giving details about the gunfight, Senior Superintendent of Police PulwamaRayees Muhammad Bhat said: "Actually the village was cordoned off after specific inputs about presence of some militants there. During search operation, the militants came out from a house and fired upon the forces. The fire was retaliated, triggering an encounter."
"Two militants were killed while as two cops got injured in the firing. 10 other cops were injured during the clashes," he said.
As the body of the slain militant was taken to his native village Gundibagh, thousands of people assembled near the graveyard and held massive anti-India and pro-freedom demonstrations.
As the body was being taken to the graveyard, women and children were also seen participating in the procession.
As the slain militant was being laid to rest, some militants appeared in the village and fired many rounds in the air to offer gun salute to their slain colleague, locals and witnesses said.