Two militants killed, Army officer among four injured in Kashmir firefight

 Two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militants were killed and four army troopers including a Major were injured in a fierce gunfight that erupted in Heff Shermal area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district yesterday afternoon.

Several policemen and protesters were injured in the clashes which erupted during encounter in various villages adjacent to Heff Shermal in the district, witnesses said.

The firefight had erupted yesterday after army’s 55 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), police’s Special Operation Group (SOG) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) cordoned off the Heff Shermal village after receiving specific information about the presence of militants. Immediately after placing the village under cordon, the forces had started searches to locate the militants. In the meanwhile, the hiding rebels fired volley of fire on government forces which was returned by them ensuing an encounter.

A local militant, identified as Ashiq Hussain Dar, was killed on Tuesday late night while another continued to fire upon forces, a police official said, adding, the operation was suspended for whole night and was started today early morning.

The official said that the heavy exchange of fire between the two sides resumed today morning and continued for several hours.

Four army troopers including a Major identified as Sandeep of 55 RR sustained injuries and were shifted to army hospital for treatment, the army spokesman said.

The officials said slain militant , Ashiq Hussain Dar, who was a B category rebel and joined the rebel ranks last year in August. Reports suggest that the slain was highly qualified youth.

A senior official said the second militant identified as Shabir Ahmad Dar was also gunned down by forces on Wednesday late afternoon.

Meanwhile, violent protests erupted in various villages adjacent to Heff Shermal including Achan, Turkuwangan and Lassipora and other adjoining areas.

“The protesters were shouting pro-freedom and pro-Islam slogans. They despite rains staged massive protests against forces and were demanding slain militants body.

The protesters tried to march towards gunfight site but were intercepted by forces ensuing clashes. The forces used teargas shells to disperse the protesters who retaliated with stones,” witnesses said, adding, at least 6 policemen and few youths were injured in the clashes.

“The search of the nearby houses and the adjoining jungle area is still in progress as per the last reports,” the army spokesman added.