A fierce gunbattle between militants and security forces in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district has claimed the lives of two policemen. Five militants have been killed as well and three armymen and two policemen have been injured.
Unconfirmed reports suggest three policemen might have been killed.
The encounter had begun on Monday in Awathkuli Meeyal Kralpora forests, 110 km north of Srinagar and close to the Line of Control. An advance party of the police special operation group and the army’s 18 Grenadiers, sent to flush out the infiltrating militants, had come under heavy fire. The first volley of bullets had hit two policemen, Shiraz Ahmad Khan and Gulzar Ahmad Mir.
According to a police spokesman, Khan died on the spot. “But till late on Tuesday afternoon, his body could not be traced,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity.
“These are dense forests, it is difficult to contact the operation parties because of the terrain,” said VK Birdhi, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Kupwara, who is overseeing the operation.
The area has been cordoned off, but the security forces have lost touch with the advance team. Reinforcements have been rushed to the area to retrieve the body of the dead policeman and neutralise the remaining militants.
“The toll might go up. We are not sure how many militants have been killed so far,” said the police officer.
The security forces suspect a new batch of militants has crossed into Kupwara to revive declining militancy in the area. Kupwara is emerging as a major militant infiltration route.