An Army officer and two jawans were killed during an 18-hour gunbattle which saw the elimination of five top militants of Pakistan-based terror outfits in Sopore district of North Kashmir.
The gunbattle began on Monday night when security forces got information about the presence of Lashker-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen terrorists in Chinkipura, a heavily congested area of the Sopore town, official sources said.
The killed armymen have been identified as Captain Devinder Singh Jass, Naik Selva Kumar and Paratrooper Imtiyaz
Ahmad Thokar of first PARA.
However, a report from Bhopal quoting Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor said the dead officer was a Major.
A resident of Shopian in South Kashmir, Imtiyaz is the second armyman killed while fighting militants. In March last
year, Paratrooper Shabbir Malik was killed fighting terrorists in Hafruda forests of Kupwara.
The militants suspected to have been killed included Bhasharat of Hizbul Mujahideen and Noman and Hamza of
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Sallahuddin of Lashker-e-Taiba and a local militant Tauseef Mir, the sources said.
Located 54-kilometeres from Srinagar, Sopore turned into a virtual fortress with police, army and para-military men
marching into the area.
The terrorists, in their last ditch attempt to escape, blew up the two houses which were being used by them to fire
at security forces since 0230 hours this morning. The security forces had cordoned off the area.
Report said security forces came under heavy fire from militants who hurled dozens of grenades as special forces of
the Army approached and laid a siege of the area based on specific intelligence input.
Senior police officials were camping in the area and had been busy evacuating the locals from the locality so that a
final onslaught could be launched.
Army set up a multi-layer security ring was thrown around the Sopore town to prevent any attempt by militants to escape.