[Representational Image]IANS

Two terrorists, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Junaid Mattoo, were killed in an encounter between security forces and terrorists in the Arwani village of Anantnag's Bijbehara town on Friday. A 22-year-old civilian was also killed when the forces opened fire on protesters while the encounter was underway.

The terrorists, who were holed up inside a house in the village, were killed in a joint operation by the Indian Army, Special Operations Group (SOG) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) acting on a tipoff.

While the encounter was underway, local villagers tried to break the cordon to help terrorists escape forcing the police and the CRPF jawans to use pellets and open fire on them resulting in the death of a 22-year-old civilian named Mohammed Ashraf. Nine other civilians also got injured in the firing.

Mattoo, who reportedly joined militancy in 2015, featured on the Indian Army's list of the 12 'Most Wanted' militants released on May 30 and was categorised as a class 'A' militant — the second highest classification in the order of their rank and threat. He also carries a bounty of Rs 5 lakh on his head, News18 reported. He was made Kulgam district's LeT chief after his predecessor and friend Majid Zargar was killed in December 2016. 

The LeT commander, a resident of Khudwani village in Kulgam, attacked the police on three separate occasions. The first was in June 2016 where he, along with another terrorist, killed two policemen. The second was an attack on jawans of the Border Security Force (BSF) when three soldiers were killed. The third attack, which claimed the life of a policeman on Thursday, was also his doing.

Soldier killed in Nowshera cross-firing

A 34-year-old soldier was killed on Friday after the Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked firing on Indian Army posts at 5:15 am in the Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Naik Bakhtawar Singh, the deceased jawan, sustained serious injuries. Singh, who hails from Punjab's Hajipur village, succumbed to his injuries on his way to the Military Hospital. He is survived by wife and three children.

Singh's wreath laying ceremony will be held in Rajouri on Saturday after which his body will be taken to his village where his last rites will be performed with full military honours.