SRINAGAR: Militants ambushed an army patrol early on Thursday in South Kashmir killing three soldiers. At least four others, including two officers, were injured, police said adding one civilian woman was killed inside her house by a stray bullet.
The attack was carried out by Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Mulu Chitragam village in Shopian district in the wee hours Thursday when a joint party of army and special opertaions group of police was returning from a cordon operation in nearby Kungnoo hamlet.
Three soldiers died on the spot, while two officers including a lieutenant colonel and a major were injured. However, reports had said that the major succumbed to his injuries later but army did not confirm it
The slain army personnel were identified as L/Nk Gh Mohi-ud-din Rather; Sep Vikas Singh Gurjar and Spr Sreejith Mj. The injured army major was identified as Amar Deep, belt no, 70353x.
Giving details, police sources said, a joint team of elite 44 Rashtrya Rifles and SOG had gone to the village, following intelligence inputs about the presence of militants.
The operation concluded without any arrest or recovery. While returning from Kungnoo, the search party boarding half a dozen vehicles was ambushed by militants at Mulu Chitragam, at about 2 AM, they said.
Sources said the militants had blocked the road with wooden logs. When the army vehicles slowed down, the militants opened fire, and later escaped under the cover of darkness, said sources.
Women identified as Taja Begum, wife of Ghulam Mohammed Mir of Mulu was hit by the bullets inside her house and died instantly, they said.
Following the killing of Hizb commander Burhan wani in July last year, the South Kashmir has turned into new fighting ground between militants and security forces, with gun battles taking place almost every week.
In the past two weeks, nine soldiers, including an officer, have been killed in three attacks in Kulgam, Hajin and Handwara.
Two weeks before on February 14, three soldiers were killed and 15 security personnel were injured during an encounter with militants in Bandipora district. A militant was also killed in the gunfight.
On February 12, two security personnel, four militants and a civilian were killed in an encounter in Kulgam district.
Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit claimed responsibility for todays attack.
In a telephonic statement to local news agency KNS, Hizb operational spokesperson, Burhan-ud-Din, claimed killing of five army men and seven injuries to seven others in the attack.
The spokesman hailed the Hizb squad that carried out the attack on army.
Meanwhile, villagers alleged that security forces had ransacked their houses and arrested some residents.
Violence No Means To Address Issues, Says CM
Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti issued a statement condemning the killing of three army personnel.
The Chief Minister said, violence has never been and could never be a means to address issues. The unending cycle of violence in the State has brought untold miseries to the people and collective efforts are needed to get the State out of the morass of death and destruction.
Mehbooba Mufti also expressed deep grief and anguish over the death of a civilian in the incident.
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