Gunfight rages in Pahalgam village
A gunfight erupted between militants and government forces in a village in Pahalgam area of south Kashmir's Anantnag district on Sunday, police and reports said.
The gunfight erupted in Awora village near a wildlife sanctuary at around 4 pm and was on when this report was being filed.
A police official said following a specific input about presence of militants in Awora, a joint team of Army's 3 Rashtriya Rifles and Special Operations Group of J&K police cordoned off the area and started searches. "The militants, hiding in a residential house near Awora Nallah, resorted to indiscriminate firing on the forces, triggering a gunfight," the official said.
He said heavy exchange of fire continued till late Sunday evening.
"We have installed lights, made other arrangements and tightened the cordon to ensure that the hiding militants don't escape," the police official said.
Sources said two to three militants, affiliated with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit and hailing from Bijbehara area, are believed to be holed up in the house located in a sparsely populated village consisting of only a few households.
The village in Pahalgam, a famed tourist place, has been freezing these days at a minimum temperature of minus 15.
Meanwhile, as soon as the word about the gunfight spread, people from adjacent villages including Sallar, Srigufwara and Dehwatu marched towards the encounter site and clashed with the forces, witnesses said.
"The protesters tried to break the cordon to help militants flee, but forces fired teargas shells to disperse them," they told Greater Kashmir.
They said several people sustained injuries in the clashes.
Meanwhile, reports of protests also came in from Bijbehara town and Srigufwara area.
The encounter is second in Pahalgam area in about a decade. In December 2015, three Hizb militants from Bijbehara area were killed by forces in Akad village of Aishmuqam near Pahalgam.
Prior to 2006, the area, particularly its villages Dachnipora, Khuvripora and main Pahalgam, was considered to be a hotbed of militancy.
Meanwhile, reports said forces cordoned off Lassipora area of Pulwama, but there was no report of break out of gunfight.