Srinagar: Three militants, who allegedly entered a house and took its owner hostage in Batote area of Jammu and Kashmir’s mountainous Ramban district on Saturday, were killed by security forces during a nine hour-long operation.
One Army soldier laid down his life while fighting the holed-up gunmen, J&K police and army officials said.
According to them, the gunmen first tried to stop a private vehicle at around 7.30 am at Batote along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway (NH 244). The civilian did not stop and informed an Army unit in nearby Dharmund village about it.
Soon, a quick reaction team of the Army reached the area and located the gunmen, who opened fire and hurled a grenade at the troops. After a brief exchange of fire, the gunmen started moving away from the scene, officials said.
However, the army gave chase, leading to the gunmen entering a nearby house and taking its owner Vijay Kumar hostage. Officials said other family members were evacuated to safety after they managed to slip out of the house.
The house was quickly encircled with reinforcements from the army and other security forces, including the J&K police.
At around 1 pm, a fresh exchange of fire started between the holed up gunmen and security forces. Even though there was a heavy downpour, the operation continued for several hours.
During the exchange of fire, all three gunmen were killed. “We have killed three terrorists in the gunfight. One soldier has been martyred during the action,” Jammu-based army spokesman Lt. Col. Devender Anand said. While the operation was on, vehicular movement on the highway was stopped, “as a precautionary measure.”
Police officials believe that the trio of militants came to Batote from the Kishtwar side and reportedly spent the night at an abandoned shed on the highway. Possibly, they were the same militants who had on September 13 snatched the service rifle from the personal security officer of a People’s Democratic Party leader, Sheikh Nasir.
Earlier during the day, one suspected militant was killed in a gunfight with security forces in Trumkhal area of Kashmir’s central Ganderbal district.
Sources said the operation was still underway when reports last came in. “Some reports suggest that four to five more militants are trapped in the area. The operation is still on. It may take time to neutralise all of them,” said a police official.