Three militants & two soldiers dead; locals help militants flee

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Three militants, including top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Yasin Itoo, were killed in an over 24 hour-long gunfight that ended on Sunday in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian district and also left two soldiers dead.

Spokesman said acting on a specific information, Shopian police along with 03 RR, 14 Bn and 177 Bn CRPF launched a cordon and search operation at Awneera village in the jurisdiction of Police Station Zainapora, Shopian. Our correspondent reports that the slain terrorists were identified as local Hizbul Mujahideen cadres. A dozen stone-pelting protesters were injured in clashes with security forces in the area.

The topography of Pulwama, with its vast orchards and fields ringed by dense forests, also provide a flawless shelter and operating cover to militants.

Speaking to India Blooms, Senior Superintend of Police Shopian Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar said, "Three militants were killed and firing have stopped".

"They emerged from the rubble after overnight lull and fired indiscriminately at our men".

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Personnel from 55 Rashtriya Rifles, special operations group of police and Central Reserve Police Force are jointly taking part in the ongoing operation, the KMS said.

He said while the security personnel were conducting combing operation, they came under a heavy volume of fire from militants hiding in the area.

"As security personnel tried to zero in on the houses damaged in the gunfight, militants opened fire again", said a policeman. "He was also involved in firing on Bn Hqrs IRP 18th Bn Reshipora and on Army party at Moolu Chitragam".

In a growing series of encounters in the Kashmir Valley, another encounter took place in Shopian district of Kashmir Valley on Saturday.

Hundreds of Indian soldiers surrounded Awneera, a village about 50km south of the main city of Srinagar, on Saturday night following a tip-off about fighters in the area, AFP news agency reported. Two Army men had lost their life in the gunfight yesterday, while three others were injured.

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