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J&K mosque standoff: 3 hostages exit safely
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | December 24, 2007 18:08 IST
Last Updated: December 24, 2007 21:41 IST
Three of the five civilians held hostage by militants came out safely on Monday evening even as security forces continued the siege around the mosque in south Kashmir's Palnu village, 80 km from Srinagar [Images] in Kulgam district.
A senior police officer said the operation had to be suspended on Monday evening and would now be resumed at first light Tuesday.
He confirmed that three civilians managed to come out safely from inside the mosque, where militants were still holding two hostages with them.
"Two civilians were allowed by the holed up militants to leave the mosque for talks with security force officers and to bring food for the other hostages. The third hostage managed to run out of the mosque this evening," he said.
The mosque standoff is now over 36 hours long, and there had been intermittent exchanges of fire between the holed up militants and surrounding security forces during this period.
Tear gas shells were also used to force the militants to come out of the mosque.
The standoff began on Sunday morning after security forces cordoned off Palnu village mosque, following information that some militants had been hiding inside.
In the initial exchange of fire, one trooper of the army was injured while five civilians ran inside the mosque to avoid being caught in the crossfire. They were later held hostage by the holed up militants belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit.