Two policemen and three jawans also lost their lives in the encounter.
Five militants have been killed and five security personnel lost their lives in an ongoing gunfight in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Wednesday.
“Earlier [in the day], three bodies of the militants were recovered. The fourth body of a militant was also spotted at the encounter site in Kupwara. The firing continued [till late Wednesday evening],” said Director General of Police S.P. Vaid.
Late in the evening, a Srinagar-based spokesman confirmed that a fifth militant was “neutralised” at the encounter site. All slain militants, according to the police, were “foreigners and part of a recently infiltrated group”.
“Owing to the thick vegetation and low visibility, the mopping operation is heading slowly in the area and with due caution,” said the police spokesman. “Incriminating documents have also been seized from the slain militants,” he added.
The bodies recovered were strapped with weapons and ammunition, including live grenades, said the police.
A fresh gunfight started on Wednesday morning after an intermittent exchange of fire during the night in Kupwara’s dense forest area of Check Fatehkhan in Halmatpora range.
Officials said the group of militants, which attacked on Army’s domination domination patrol on Tuesday afternoon, “resumed target fire during the day and were holed up in natural caves offered by the mountain range in the area.” The militants fanned out in different directions and “positioned at multiple points”, they said.
According to the spokesmen of the Army and the police, two policeman and three army jawans were also killed in the fierce exchange of fire.
The deceased personnel were identified as Mohammad Ashraf Rather and Naik Ranjeet Singh of 160 battalion of the Territorial Army, and Special Police Officer Mohammad Yousuf Cheche and policeman Deepak Thesoo. The identity of third deceased Army jawan could not be ascertained.
One policeman of the Special Operation Group (SOG) was also injured and “is stated to be stable”.
The Army’s elite force, Para Commandos, have also been brought in to wrap up the encounter. Kupwara is over 110 km north of Srinagar and is a frontier district, close to the Line of Control.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed solidarity with the bereaved families of the deceased personnel.