Security forces gunned down five militants on Thursday during an eight-hour firefight in Jammu and Kashmir a day after army personnel killed an infiltrator from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group who was holed up in the state.
A fierce gun battle took place between security personnel and the attackers from the indigenous Hizbul Mujahideen group in the Gader forests ringing south Kashmir’s Shopian town, sources said.
While four of the five militants were likely local residents, the one killed on Wednesday in Sopore was a foreigner, officials said.
Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes near the border since October as Pakistan has been trying to push militants into Indian territories by targeting army outposts and civilian areas, officials said.
Personnel from the army, police and CRPF cordoned off the woods, around 60 kilometres south of Srinagar, following a tip-off about the presence of a high-profile Hizbul team, a police spokesperson said.
“During the searches, the militants present in the forest fired upon the joint search team, triggering an encounter,” he said. “Three AK rifles, one SLR rifle and one pistol have been recovered from the encounter site so far. The search operation is going on.”
Sources said one of the militants, identified as local resident Shakeel Ahmad, joined the Hizbul a few months ago after quitting his job as a schoolteacher.