5 Killed As Militant Death Toll Surpasses 200 Mark

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Srinagar—Five suspected militants were shot dead by government forces on Thursday, officials said, as Kashmir reels from the deadliest upsurge in armed conflict this decade with more than 200 militants have been killed in violent clashes in Kashmir so far this year.

The fresh killings took place in two separate encounters with security forces in central and north Kashmir areas on Thursday.

Four Jaish-e-Mohammed militants were killed in a gunfight that erupted after the special operations group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and 10-Garhwal of the army cordoned off Futlipora and Budgam at around 6 am on Thursday after specific inputs about the presence of militants, reports said.

As security forces approached a house, the militants opened fire, triggering a gunfight which lasted for several hours.

Defence spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia confirmed the death of four militants in the Futlipora encounter.

He said a combing operation is underway at the site of the gunfight. Sources said three of the slain militants were Pakistanis, while the other is a local.

Reports said that security forces set fire to the house in which the militants were hiding.

The government forces were engaged on another front as locals took to streets in Futlipora-Pakherpora in order to allow trapped militants to escape. They fight a pitched battle with the government forces.

As the news spread, youth from neighbouring areas tried to march towards the encounter site, but were stopped from doing so by the forces. The stone-pelting was fierce between 9 and 10 am. A police official said that while over 50 youth protested near Phutlipora encounter, over 100 did so a few kilometres away at Pakherpora.

At least 150 youth were involved in the incident and one received bullet wounds. Police said that action will be initiated against the stone-pelters and a case will be registered.

While they hurdled stones on the forces, the former retaliated by lobbing tear gas shells. When it proved ineffective they opened fire resulting in injuries to eight persons, four of them with bullet-wounds.

A police official identified the youth who received bullet wounds as 16-year-old Sayar Ahmad. A police official said Ahmad was shot in the face and was later shifted to a sub district hospital at Charar-i-Sharief, from where he was moved to Srinagar after his condition deteriorated.

Ghulam Hassan Bhat, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir range, said: “It was due to the timely action by the forces that the encounter couldn’t be disrupted. The youth who was injured was part of the protests. His condition is stable.’’

Bhat said that the stone-pelting was a routine “affair’’ witnessed at encounter sites. “We managed to control the stone-pelting after some time. We will register an FIR against the youth.”

An irate mob also set ablaze a tata mobile vehicle in the area.

Reports said the clashes spread from Pakherpora to nearby Dalwan area.

They said clashes between protesters and forces were going on in the area since morning when the gunfight between militants and government forces took place in the village around 6 AM.

Another militant was killed in Sagipora-Sopore, 55 kms from here in north Kashmir Baramulla district yesterday.

Army sources said one militant has been killed but the body has not been recovered yet. “We believe more militants are inside”, they said.

A soldier was injured in the initial firing of the militants and the operation is still going on.

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