Clashes break out during J&K gunfight

Srinagar: While a gunfight was on between holed up militants and security forces on Thursday in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district, clashes erupted between civilian protesters and the forces near the gun battle site, police said.

The security forces had earlier launched a cordon and search operation in Shatgund village of Handwara tehsil after receiving information about the presence of militants there.

As news about the encounter spread in the area, civilian protesters started pelting stones at the security forces near the gunfight site.

“Firing exchanges have stopped. Searches are now going on,” a police officer said. There is no official confirmation so far about whether any militant has been killed in the gunfight.

Reports from the area earlier said a top militant commander, Manan Bashir Wani, a Ph.D scholar from Aligarh Muslim University who joined militancy in January, was among the two militants trapped inside the security cordon.

Authorities have ordered closure of all educational institutions and suspension of mobile internet services in the district.

Classes in degree colleges of Bandipora, Baramulla, Pulwama and Srinagar districts have also been suspended as a precautionary measure.

In a separate incident in Pulwama district on Thursday, militants fired at and injured Special Police Officer (SPO) Bilal Ahmad in Karimabad village. He has been shifted to a hospital, a police officer said.