3 militants killed,7 security men hurt in J&K gunfights

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Srinagar, March 21 (IANS) Three militants were killed while seven security men and three civilians injured on Thursday in three different battles between security forces and militants in the Kashmir Valley, authorities said.

While the first gunfight erupted in Sopore town, two gun battles were reported later from Bandipora and Baramulla districts.

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Police sources said firing exchanges between the security forces and militants have stopped in Kandi area of Baramulla district and bodies of two militants found.

A para commando of the army, four policemen and two civilians were injured in this gunfight.

Police said one militant was killed in the exchange of fire between security forces and the militants in Mir Mohalla of Hajin area – once considered a zone “liberated” from militant control -in Bandipora.

“One militant has been killed so far. Another militant is still holed up inside a house where a 12-year-old boy is also believed to be stuck. Another civilian was safely evacuated from the house during the operation,” a police officer said.

According to a tweet by the police, the two civilians were being held hostage by the hiding militants. While one was rescued safely with the assistance of security forces and community members, the other, reportedly a minor, was still trapped.

Police said security forces started a cordon and search operation in Hajin, following intelligence inputs about the presence of militants there.

The militants who were in hiding opened fire at the security forces in Mir Mohalla, sparking off the gunfight.

Another gunfight started in Kandi area of Baramulla after security forces resumed on Thursday morning a search operation which was suspended due to darkness on Wednesday evening.

“As the search operation was resumed, militants fired at the security forces, triggering an encounter,” the officer said.

In the third incident, two policemen – a Station House Officer (SHO) and his security guard – and a civilian were injured earlier on Thursday when militants hurled a grenade at security forces in Warpora area of Sopore town and then opened fire.

“Both the policemen have been shifted to Srinagar for specialized treatment. The operation against the militants is going on,” a police officer said.

A civilian sustained bullet injury in his leg in the Sopore gunfight. He too was shifted to hospital and his condition was stated to be stable.

As a precaution, authorities suspended mobile Internet service in Sopore town.

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