A day after two gun battles killed four militants and four security forces personnel, including a Major, a four-hour encounter took place in South Kashmir on Thursday.
A divisional commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen and a deputy commander of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba were killed in Thursday’s encounter in Kashmir’s southern district of Kulgam, 75 km from Srinagar. The slain militants were two of about 500 currently estimated by the state police to be operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
The previous encounters, which had begun on Monday and Tuesday, ended on Wednesday.
Unlike the previous encounters that took place in North Kashmir, Thursday’s was fought in the southern part of the state but analysts did not see any tactical motives behind this.
The police said Thursday’s gun battle broke out around 3.30 am when a patrolling party of 9 Rashtriya Rifles came across a group of militants in the hilly Damhal area of Kulgam district.
The Special Operations Group of the state police reinforced the patrolling team soon after the encounter began.
“Militants started firing on the patrol party, resulting in an encounter that lasted about four hours. Two militants were killed in the gunfight,” said Kulgam SP Keshav Ram Chaurasiya.
The militants have been identified as Saddam Manzoor Ahmad divisional commander of Peer Panjal Regiment of Hizbul Mujahideen and Saifullah Basharat, deputy commander of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.
The police said both militants were residents of Reasi district in Jammu and that Manzoor had been active in the area since 1995.
The encounter was part of the increasing militant activity in the state over the past two months. There has also been a spurt in infiltration bids by militants along the LoC.