SRINAGAR — Two Army soldiers and a newly recruited militant were killed in an overnight gunfight in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, officials said on Saturday.

“Based on a specific input provided by Police, a joint operation was launched at Chermarg, Shopian by Army and Police during the intervening night of February 18 and 19,” Inspector General of Police Kashmir Zone Vijay Kumar told GNS.

Following the drill, he said, a cluster of houses were taken into cordon and the process of evacuating the civilians started. “During the process, when search party reached one of the houses belonging to Gowhar Ahmad Bhat, the house-owner intentionally misled the search party and denied sheltering the (militant) in his house,” he said, adding, “While he was being questioned, a (militant) sheltered in the house opened fire on the search party, causing grievous injuries to two of the soldiers.”

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In the retaliatory action, he said, one militant of LeT outfit namely Abdul Qayoom Dar of Laroo Kakapora Pulwama was killed. “Arms and ammunition including one AK rifle and a pistol were recovered,” he said.

Later on, both the injured soldiers succumbed to the wounds. Army has identified them as Sepoy Santosh Yadav and Sepoy Chavan Romit Tanaji, both from the Army’s 1st RR.

The police officer said that a case has been registered and the house owner has been arrested under anti-militancy laws. “The killed militant had a history of being a militant associate. In April 2020, an encounter took place in his house,” he said, adding, “Dar was arrested and booked under PSA. He was released in August 2021 but kept silently working for (militants).”

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He said SSP Pulwama officially intimated some days earlier that Dar had left his home and joined as an active militant of LeT outfit. “Consequently, he has been categorised as C category militant,” he added.

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