Three heavily-armed terrorists on Thursday stormed an army camp in Kupwara district of Kashmir, killing a Captain and two other soldiers before two of the assailants were gunned down in a fierce 35-minute encounter.
Soon after the encounter, a mob started pelting stones at the security forces, leading to a clash in which a 75-year-old civilian was killed due to a bullet injury.
At around 4 am, three terrorists, dressed in black Pathani suit and combat jackets, entered from the rear side the artillery unit of the army garrison at Panzgam in Kupwara, about 100 kms from Srinagar, and started indiscriminate firing, army officials said.
They managed to cross the second security layer of the camp located in a mountainous terrain and spread over an area of 400 x 800 meters, the officials said.
Firing indiscriminately, the terrorists then advanced towards the officers' complex of the camp which houses about 1000 army personnel and is situated about 10 kms from the Line of Control with Pakistan.
Soldiers took on the attackers and forced them back towards one of the gates of the camp, the officials said.
In the gunfight, Captain Ayush Yadav, Subedar Bhoop Singh Gujjar and Naik B Venkata Ramanna were killed.
Five other soldiers were injured and they were airlifted to Army's 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar.
The militants started fleeing as the Quick Response Team of the army swung into action, the officials said.
Two militants were gunned down while a third one managed to escape under the cover of darkness, the officials said.
"The entire operation lasted 35 minutes," said Col Saurabh in Kupwara.
The troops recovered three AK rifles which indicated that there was a third terrorist, he said, adding search operations are underway to track him down.
"We have recovered three AK rifles, nine magazines, 156 AK rounds, one Chinese pistol, three UBGL grenades, three hand grenades, two radio sets, two GPS devices and a smartphone from the slain terrorists," another official said.
The official, on the condition of anonymity, said the attackers seemed to be foreigners but their identity was being ascertained.
As soon as the encounter ended, local residents held protest demonstrations, demanding that the bodies of slain militants be handed over to them for performing their last rites, a police official said.
The protestors, including women and elderly, continued demonstrations but the army personnel did not relent to their demand, the official said.
In the clash between stone-pelting mobs and security forces, one Mohammad Yousuf Bhat sustained a bullet injury in his chest and was rushed to Kupwara hospital where doctors declared him 'brought dead'.
Locals alleged that he was killed in firing by security forces.
Capt Yadav, who hailed from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, had joined the service some three years ago.
Naik Ramana, 38 hailed from Visakhapatnam and served in the army for the last 18 years while Subedar Gujjar, 46 had put in 26 years of service.