Six militants and two soldiers were killed in a major ongoing gunbattle in the jungles of north Kashmir's Rafiabad area on Friday, indicating that the summer will be hot as predicted by senior army officers.
The encounter has come a day after a Major and a rifleman was killed in the same region at Chatibandi, Bandipora.
Just 30 km away from the Bandipora encounter site, the army on Thursday evening launched another operation to flush out militants from a forest range in Rafiabad and Hapatnar.
The forest areas, which is 70 km north of Srinagar is dense populated by tall fir, pine trees and green shrubs. Militants to sneak into urban areas in summers in Kashmir use the green covers as a camouflage.
To scuttle the militants' attempt to come down from forest area, the army and the police launched a joint operation. The search operation was launched after a tip-off about a batch of militants moving in the area on May 5.
"During search operations in the thickly forested area, a contact was established with the militants in the evening on Thursday. The Army responded to the sustained and heavy fire of militants," army spokesman Lt. Colonel Vineet Sood told the Hindustan Times.
The army said the militants attempted to flee in the darkness but failed to do so because of inclement weather and the tight cordon laid by the troops.
The army suspects presence of some foreign militants among the slain.
"Till last reports came in, six militants were killed and two soldiers were martyred in the operation," army spokesman Lt. Colonel Vineet Sood told the Hindustan Times.
The spokesman said since the forest area is dense and sporadic firing was on, the army has decided not to call off the operation. "The operation has come as a major below to the militants," said Sood.
The army's 30 Rashtriya Rifles, 32 Rashtriya Rifles and the SOG are coordinating the operation in the area.
The largest indigenous militant outfit of Kashmir, Hizbul Mujahideen, claimed the militants killed in the encounter were its men.
The army, however, said the identification of the militants was awaited due to ongoing operation. "But we have recovered all the six bodies of the militants," said Sood. "It seems it was quite a big batch of militants."
The forest areas area being used by the militants to spill into Sopore, Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora of north Kashmir.