Two terrorists, including top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Bashir Lashkari, were gunned down by security forces during an encounter that broke out inside a house in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir early on Saturday. The other terrorist who was shot dead by the forces has been identified as Azad Malik.
Two civilians, including a woman, also lost their lives while several others got injured in cross-firing between terrorists and security forces. Tahira Begum, the 44-year-old deceased woman, sustained injuries in cross-firing and was then rushed to the district hospital. However, she succumbed to her injuries, officials said.
Security forces — including the Indian Army, the Jammu and Kashmir police's Special Operations Group (SOG) and the CRPF — launched a search and cordon operation in the district's Brenthi Batpora Dialgam village after they received inputs about the presence of terrorists in the area. Forces also rescued 17 civilians who were trapped in the residential area where the terrorists were hiding.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police had announced a bounty of Rs 10 lakh for Lashkari after he masterminded an attack that killed six policemen in Achabal, including Station House Officer (SHO) Feroz Ahmed Dar, on June 16 this year.
According to Greater Kashmir, local residents marched towards the site of the encounter to help the terrorists — who were hiding inside a building — escape the cordon triggering clashes that left dozens of people injured. There were also reports of stone pelting in the area. "They (forces) were not even letting women from a house where militants were trapped to come out," the residents alleged.
However, the police denied all allegations saying that it was not the forces but the terrorists who used residents as a human shield. An official was quoted by the Deccan Chronicle as saying that the operation against the terrorists was suspended for a while so that residents could come out and be relocated to a safer place.
Mobile internet services suspended
Mobile internet services in the district have been snapped while security restrictions have been imposed within a 3 km radius of the site of the encounter. Officials said that the mobile internet services have been snapped to prevent the spreading of rumours through social media.
Roads leading to Brenti-Dialgam have also been sealed, local media reported. Curfew-like restrictions have been put in place in central Srinagar "as a precautionary measure".