Two terrorists and a policeman were killed in a fierce gun battle at Tral in south Kashmir which lasted for nearly 12 hours.
One of the militants was a Hizbul Mujahideen operative identified as Aaquib Bhat, popularly known as Aaquib Maulvi, who was active in the area for the last three years. The other militant, Saif-ul-lah alias Osama, was a Pakistani terrorist working with Jaish-e-Mohammed, official sources said.
A police constable, Manzoor Ahmed Niak of Uri, was also killed after he took on the terrorists head on during the operation which began at 7 pm on Saturday night and continued till 6.30 am, officials said.
A holed-up Bhat had called his father in the wee hours of the morning and bid his final goodbye to him, they said. He was a local resident and his ancestral house was at Hyena in Tral area itself.
Security forces had received an input about the presence of two militants in the residence of a carpenter after which police, army and Central Reserve Police Force threw a cordon around it.
The first contact was established with the militants around 7 pm and after that there was an intermittent exchange of fire.
Tral town, which had shot into prominence because of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, was tense and people had started pouring on to the streets to try and provide an escape for the holed-up militants.
Stones were hurled at the security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations but the situation was brought under control by police and CRPF who chased the mob away, officials said. Strict restrictions were imposed in the area over the movement of people.
During these clashes, some of the miscreants snatched an INSAS rifle of a CRPF official.
An Army Major identified as R Reshi suffered a bullet injury and was rushed to the base hospital where his condition was stated to be out of danger now.
“Manzoor was a brave soldier of the special operations group of J-K police and fought gallantly. This operation was conducted in a very professional manner with minimum loss,” Director General of Police, J&K Police, S P Vaid said.
“Both the terrorists, including a foreign one, have been eliminated,” he added.
Photograph: Umar Ganie