Three militants were killed in an 11-hour long encounter with government forces in Wantiwen forest area of Tral on Saturday. Clashes and protests erupted in the area following the killings.
Police said the slain militants were Mukhtar Ahmed Lone of Harpora Amirabad Tral, Pervaiz Ahmed Wani of Pahoo Pulwama and a Pakistani namely Hassan Bhai.
Police sources and witnesses said that on Saturday morning government forces cordoned off Gujar Basti in Wantiwen forests and launched searches following inputs about presence of militants.
"J&K police, Army's 42 Rashtriya Rifles and 185 Bn Central Reserve Police Force rushed to the spot and cordoned the area. During the search operation some militants present in a cave fired upon the forces, triggering an encounter," an official said.
The firing continued throughout the day from both sides as the last militant who was putting up a tough fight was killed at around 5:30 in the evening. For hours together two bodies were lying at the encounter spot amid heavy exchange of firing.
Army choppers were pressed into service and para-troopers were also called in during the encounter. The forces used rocket launchers to blow up the hideout in the forests where the militants were holed up.
Witnesses said that army suffered some casualties during the encounter when a chopper accidently released a bomb that fell on an army vehicle. However, police did not confirm.
The militants, as per sources, were holed up inside the cave located in dense forests, 17 kms from Tral township.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, DIG South Kashmir SP Pani said all the three militants were killed by the evening.
People were waiting outside police station Tral and police station Aripal till late evening to receive the bodies of the militants but police did not hand over the bodies to them.
13 PROTESTERS INJURED:
Following the encounter, hundreds of youth from Satura and its adjoining villages took to streets and held protests against the killing of the militants. The protesters pelted stones on the forces and raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.
The forces lobbed tear smoke shells, fired pellets on the youth and also fired bullets in air. Several protesters sustained injuries, many of them were shifted to PHC Aripal for treatment.
"We received 11 injured including one with tear smoke shell injuries and 10 with pellet injuries," said the doctors at PHC Aripal. Many injured persons did not visit the hospital fearing police action and were treated locally," they said. As the word about the killings of militants spread in Tral township, shopkeepers downed their shutters and traffic went off from the roads. Complete shutdown was observed across Tral and its adjoining hamlets. Mobile Internet services were snapped in the area by the government.
Locals stated that government forces fired pava and tear smoke shells in Satura indiscriminately. Many shells landed inside the houses causing suffocation to the locals.