Pulwama: Seven civilians, one army personnel killed as clashes break out following encounter

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An Army personnel was killed along with seven civilians as clashes broke out following an ongoing encounter in Kharpora Sirnoo village of Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.

At least three militants were killed during the encounter with the forces. As per the latest reports, more than 120 civilians have been injured, of which nine are said to be critical with serious bullet injuries. The three militants killed in the encounter have been identified as Adnan Wani, Zahoor Ahmad Kar alias Tahir Hizbi and Zahoor Thakar.

Zahoor Thakar, who was earlier allegedly a soldier in the Indian Army, had fled from an Army camp with an AK-47 in 2017. Sirnoo is the native village of the slain terrorist.

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As the encounter began on Saturday morning, the militants were trapped in an open area. Two Army men also suffered injuries during the gunbattle. The operation was conducted by a joint team of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Indian Army, and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.

The security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Sirnoo village of south Kashmir on Saturday morning after receiving specific intelligence input about the presence of militants in the area, an Army official said. The search operation turned into an encounter after the militants opened fire on the security personnel.

There were also reports of stone pelting in the area as the encounter took place. The forces had to open fire and resort to tear-gas shelling to disperse the protesters. The civilians killed during the encounter have been identified as Amir Ahmad Paul, Shahid Ahmad Khanday, Abid Hussian Lone, Ishfaq Ahmad, Shahbaz Ali, Liyaqat Ahmad, Tawseef Ahmad Mir, and Jahangir Ahmad. Among the civilians who got killed were two youth, identified as Amir Ahmad and Abid Hussain.

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According to news agency Press Trust of Kashmir, the youth sustained bullet injuries in the clashes, which erupted at the encounter site, between protesting civilians and the security forces. Though they were shifted to a hospital but were declared dead on arrival. The authorities have suspended mobile internet in Pulwama and rail services between the Kashmir Valley and Bannihal town in the Jammu region has also been halted.