Security forces on Thursday resumed search operation for bodies of militants believed to have been killed and buried under the debris of the houses that were destroyed in the fierce gunbattle in Sopore.
The operation to retrieve the bodies of the militants, who were said to have been killed in the day-long gunbattle on Tuesday, resumed this morning, officials said.
A militant, believed to have been killed in the gunbattle, emerged alive from the debris yesterday and opened fire on security personnel searching for the bodies of slain ultras, killing one of them but was later shot dead in retaliatory fire by the forces. Earlier, body of a militant was recovered yesterday from the rubbles of houses that were destroyed in the gunbattle.
Three armymen, including a captain, were killed in the gunbattle with the militants hiding in houses at Chinkipora, 55 km from here, on February 23. The deceased army personnel were identified as Captain Davinder Singh Jass, Naik Selva Kumar and Paratrooper Imtiyaz Ahmad Thokar of first Para. Besides, a civilian identified as Ramiaz Ahmad Malla, who wahit by a stray bullet while being evacuated from the scene, is being treated at a hospital in Srinagar.
The gunbattle had started on Monday night when security forces got information about the presence of Lashker-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen militants in Chinkipora, a heavily congested area of Sopore town.
The militants suspected to have been killed included Basharat of Hizbul Mujahideen and Noman and Hamza of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Sallahuddin of LET and a local militant Tauseef Mir. Four weapons have been recovered by the search parties so far, army officials said.
"We have cleared the rubble of a house and it may take some more time to clear the debris of other houses," they said. Meanwhile, life remained crippled in Sopore town for the third successive day today. Shops and business establishments were closed and traffic off the road in the town. Security forces fired rubber bullets yesterday in the town to disperse a group of protesters who were heading towards Chinkipora from Hathishah Mohalla to express solidarity with those whose houses have been damaged in the encounter. The condition of one of the injured, who got a rubber bullet shot in his leg yesterday during protests in the town, was described as "stable"