Three Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants, including a 14-year-old Hajin boy, one of the youngest ultras in Kashmir, were killed in an 18-hour gunfight with security forces in Mujgund area on the outskirts of Srinagar Sunday.
A soldier and three civilians were also injured during the encounter, a police spokesperson said.
“A search operation was launched Saturday jointly by the police and the security forces, based on a credible input about the presence of militants in the Mujgund area on the Bandipora road,” he added.
During the operation, the search party was fired upon by the militants who were hiding, the police spokesperson said.
The fire was retaliated, leading to a gunfight, he added.
“In the initial exchange of fire, one Army soldier was injured, who is admitted to a hospital. Three civilians also sustained injuries as the area was open and they were shifted to a hospital. They are stated to be stable,” the spokesperson said.
Three militants were killed in the counter and their bodies were retrieved from the site, he added.
The slain militants were identified as Mudasir Rashid Parray and Saqib Bilal Sheikh — both residents of the Hajin area in Bandipora district — and from the evidence collected, one militant was learnt to be a Pakistani, identified as Ali, the spokesperson said.
“The three militants were affiliated to proscribed militant outfit LeT,” he added.
Parray was reportedly 14 years of age and one of the youngest militants killed in the valley. His gun-wielding picture had surfaced on the social media earlier this week, after he had gone missing from his house in August.
However, the police said Parray’s age could not be confirmed.
“We do not know if he was 14 or 16, though he looked young. There is no way to confirm whether he was the youngest militant ever or not,” a senior police official said.
A huge quantity of arms and ammunition, including rifles, was recovered from the encounter site, the police spokesperson said.
“All those materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and probing the slain militants’ complicity in other militancy cases,” he added.
The slain militants were wanted by the law for “their complicity in terror crimes”, he said.
“Ali, according to police records, was involved in several militant crimes and cases were registered against him, including for attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities. He was involved in the recruitment of ultras in the Hajin and Sumbal areas of Bandipora,” the police spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, clashes between groups of youngsters and security forces took place in the area during the day, a police official said.
He added that the security personnel fired tear gas shells and pellets to disperse the protesters.
The authorities had suspended mobile internet services in the city as a precautionary measure Sunday morning. The services were, however, restored in the evening after the operation was concluded, the official said.