Death toll in the fierce gunbattle, that began early on Friday morning at Buchoo village, in the foothills of a dense conifer forest in Pulwama district of South Kashmir, had reached five as four soldiers of Rashtria Rifles 3rd battalion and a local militant of the pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen have died in the last eight hours.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police for South Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, told The Hindu that the troops of RR’s 3rd and 42nd battalion, along with the Special Operations Group of Awantipore District Police, launched a cordon-and-search operation at Her Buchoo, 36 Kms from Srinagar, a little after the midnight.
Mr Kumar said that the operation was launched on specific information about the presence of three local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen at atheir hideout. Even as the cordon had been laid tightly around the village, the holed up militants opened fire that triggered off a fierce gunfight at 7.45 a.m. Three soldiers died on the spot and an injured soldier later succumbed when he was being evacuated to hospital.
One militant also died in the encounter. Another was believed to be still in the cordoned area even as heavy reinforcements of Army and Police have also joined the search operation.
General Officer Commanding 15 Corps, Lt Gen Om Prakash, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Abdul Gani Mir, DIG South Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, besides Commanding Officers of the two RR battalions, SP Awantipore Abdul Waheed Shah and other senior officers of the Awantipora-based divisional headquarters of Victor Force are supervising the operation.