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Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times
Srinagar, May 24, 2013
Four army jawans were killed on Friday in a gunbattle with suspected Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Pulwama district, 45 km south of Srinagar — an incident that gave a blow to chief minister Omar Abdullah’s efforts to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir.

Preliminary reports suggest the dense forests gave an advantage to the militants, who were hiding in the woods.

Army spokesman lieutenant colonel Ankur Vashist said, “The army’s 3 Rashtriya Rifles personnel were busy cordoning the village when militants attacked them. Three jawans were killed on the spot.”

One injured soldier died in hospital. “He was evacuated in a helicopter but succumbed to his injuries,” said Vashist.

After police and army reinforcements, one militant by the name Saifullah, an engineering graduate, was killed in the operation.

“We suspect there were around three militants,” said a police officer who was part of the operation.

All militants are suspected to be locals. “It seems Saifullah was a recent recruit and may have joined the ranks two months ago,” the officer said.

The attack came a day after the security forces killed a local militant commander, Hilal Moulvi, of the Lashkar-e-Taiba in an encounter in Srinagar.

Two days ago Abdullah had said: “Everybody knows the army has been opposing the AFSPA revocation tooth and nail.”