Five militants including a top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander and an army soldier was killed in a 17-hourlong encounter in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Friday.
The gunfight at Hanjin village of Rajpora hamlet in the south Kashmir district broke out on Thursday late night.
A joint team of the police, army’s 44 RR and CRPF had launched a cordon and search operation on specific information about the presence of militants in the area.
An official said that as the joint team of forces approached the suspected spot, the hiding militants fired upon them which triggered an encounter.
After an initial exchange of fire, the operation was suspended till the crack of dawn on Friday, however, cordon layers were strengthened to avert any chance of militants escaping, he said.
He added that militants were repeatedly given an opportunity to surrender, however, they rejected the offers and fired upon forces which were retaliated.
The official said that in the ensuing encounter five militants including a district commander of LeT Nishaz Lone of Tral besides an army man of 44 RR identified as Hawaldar Kashi were killed.
Inspector-General of Police in Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, termed the killing of Nishaz and his four associates as a “big success to forces.” Kumar said that among the slain Lone alias Khitab was the district commander of Lashkar and a foreign militant was among the five slain rebels.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police said in a statement that civilians were evacuated to safer places and as the presence of militants got ascertained they were given an opportunity to surrender, however they fired indiscriminately.
Two Army soldiers received gunshot injuries and were evacuated to hospital, however one among the injured succumbed.
Police said that Lone was active since 2018 in the volatile district.
Police identified other slain militants as Danish Manzoor Shiekh of Sathergund Kakapora, Amir Wagay resident of Hanjan Payeen, Mehran Manzoor resident of Jamalata in Srinagar and a foreign militant identified as Abu Rehan.
“All the slain militants were linked with LeT,” the police said.
As per police records, all the slain militants were part of groups involved in many attacks on armed forces.
“Arms, ammunition & other incriminating materials were recovered from the site of encounter including an SLR rifle which was snatched from a policeman in Lower Munda in 2016,” the police said.