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6 militants killed in 2 gunbattles in north Kashmir

Despite continuing unrest over alleged killing of civilians in a fake encounter in north Kashmir’s Rafiabad area, the army continued its drive against militants hiding in upper reaches of the area and claimed to have killed four militants in a dense forest range on Monday.
By Peerzada Ashiq | Hindustan Times, Srinagar
UPDATED ON MAY 31, 2010 10:24 PM IST

Despite continuing unrest over alleged killing of civilians in a fake encounter in north Kashmir’s Rafiabad area, the army continued its drive against militants hiding in upper reaches of the area and claimed to have killed four militants in a dense forest range on Monday.

In a separate gunbattle 20 km away from the Rafiabad encounter, security forces trapped two militants in a house and shelled the house to the ground.

Early in the morning, the army’s 32 Rashtriya Rifles and the police’s Special Operation Group (SOG) Handwara cordoned of a forest area, deep inside Haman Markote hill range. The forest area is known infiltration route of militants to enter into plains towards south of Rafiabad into nearby towns and then to Srinagar. Rafiabad is 60 north of Srinagar.

“The army based on intelligence inputs launched the operation in the dense Hamam Forest today morning,” said army spokesman J S Brar.

The army claimed its jawans came under fire from hiding militants when a posse was advancing deep inside the forest range. “In the ensuing exchange of fire, four terrorists have been eliminated,” said Brar.

The army claimed to have busted war-like stores in the area and also recovered four AK-47s and one UBGL in the operation. “The army has suffered one non-fatal casualty,” said Brar.

There is no independent or official confirmation of the killings as the police are yet to receive the bodies of the slain militants.

“The operation is on. Further details will be communicated as the operation progress,” said the army spokesman.

In the afternoon, just 20 km away from the encounter site, another gunbattle broke out between militants and security forces at Lalad, Sopore. The army’s 52 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) and the police’s SOG, acting on a tip-off, zeroed in on the house of Hilal Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Lalad.

“When the search-operation party reached the house, it was fired at,” said a police officer, who was part of the operation, insisting not to be named.

The security forces withdrew and took positions while surrounding the house. To stop militants from firing from automatic weapons, the security forces fired shells and downed the house to the ground.

“Unconfirmed reports suggest two militants have died in the incident. We will remove the debris and recovered the bodies. The operation is on,” said the police officer.

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