[Representational Image]IANS

At least four people, including three Indian Army jawans and a civilian, were killed and five other jawans injured after terrorists attacked an army patrolling party in the Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir in the wee hours of Thursday. According to the police, the civilian who died in cross-firing was a woman. Pakistan-based terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed resposibility for the attack.

The army convoy, consisting of seven vehicles carrying soldiers of 44 Rashtriya Rifles, was on its way back after carrying out an anti-terror operation at a village in Matrigam in Shopian when it was attacked by heavily-armed terrorists around 2:30 am on Thursday. The terrorists lets two army vehicles pass and attacked the third and fourth vehicles by firing from two directions in the Chitragam village of the district, Greater Kashmir reported.

An army trooper died on the spot, while the condition of a few other soldiers was said to be critical. The Indian Army retaliated to the attack and launched a major operation in the area which lasted for an hour. However, the attackers managed to flee the spot since it was dark. Search operations by the police and 44 Rashtriya Rifles are currently underway and additional forces have been sent to look for the terrorists.

According to the police, the old woman, who died in cross-fire after being hit by bullets inside her house, has been identified as Jana Began. The injured soldiers have been flown to Srinagar for medical treatment.

The army released a statement saying: "Such incidents have only strengthened our resolve to continue relentless operations against Pakistan-sponsored anti-nationals in the Kashmir Valley."

This is the fourth terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir in less than two weeks. At least three terrorists and one security personnel were killed in an encounter between security forces and terrorists in Khan Mohalla in the Handwara district of Jammu and Kashmir on February 14.

The same day, three Army personnel and one Laskar-e-Taiba terrorist were killed during an encounter between security forces and terrorists, who were holed up in Hajin area of Bandipora district in Jammu and Kashmir.

On February 12, at least four terrorists, two army personnel and a civilian were killed in a prolonged gunbattle between the security forces and militants on Sunday (February 12) in Yaripora in the state's Kulgam. Three army jawans also suffered injuries. 

The killings in Kulgam triggered massive protests in the area forcing the authorities to impose a curfew in Kulgam and Shopian districts. The Kashmir Valley witnessed a complete shutdown as most of the shops in Srinagar remained shut while the streets remained deserted.