Kashmir valley witnessed three fierce gunfights on Wednesday in its south and north forest ranges, with possibility of a good number of militants hiding there.
In the ongoing operations --- stretched over vast areas in Khrew, 30 km south of Kashmir and Handwara, more than 60 km north of Srinagar --- at least four militants were killed.
The gunbattle, which started in Khrew of Pulwama district on Tuesday morning, resumed on Wednesday. The operation to flush out militants was being jointly coordinated by the Awantipora police, 50 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), 31RR, 42 RR and 185 CRPF.
Several rings of security forces were thrown around Ladoo forest area, a part of Zabarwan range of forests dotted by tall pine trees, to nab the militants. The area is a crossing point of militants to sneak into three districts --- Pahalgam, Pulwama and Srinagar.
Due to security reasons the security agencies did not disclose the exact area been put under the cordon. Though, sources said, the operation is on in a vast forest range.
Security forces suspect more than ten militants were hiding in the thick strategically located forest range. Till now, the security forces were able to kill one militant, whose identity could not be ascertained. Two army jawans were also injured in the operation.
Though it was not confirmed by the security agencies, but they suspect the militants could be from dreaded Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), which is increasing its base in south Kashmir.
A Defense spokesman said the operation was on and could take more time to comb the forests.
In north of Srinagar, a gunbattle broke out when the Handwara police and 1st Para of the army launched an operation after a tip-off about presence of militants at Satkuji. Handwara is less than 30 km from the Line of Control and has dense forest range of Zacahaldar and the Shamsabari range.
The security agencies killed two militants here and the operation was on till last reports came.
In the same district, a LeT militant was killed in a separate operation in Behnipora forest range. He has been identified as Abdu Humza, a resident of Pakistan. The security forces have decided to continue with the operation to flush out other militants in the area.
There is possibility that with the onset of winters militants hiding in upper reaches were shifting to new bases in lower forest reaches to melt with the population before snowfall starts.