Two Armymen killed as Two Army personnel - a Major and a jawan – have been killed while another jawan was injured in an encounter between security personnel and militants in Zaipora village of Jammu & Kashmir's Shopian district.
Terror outfit Hizbul Mujahudeen has claimed the responsibility for the attack that began early this morning. Two to three militants are suspected to be still holed up in the village. They have been firing in retaliation to the Army's artillery fire.
The Army was acting on a tip-off about the presence of militants in the village, after which a search and cordon operation was launched in the night. Militants opened fire on the search party of security forces, police said today.
Major Kamlesh Pandey, Sepoy Tanzin and Sepoy Kripal Singh were injured in the attack. "The injured were immediately airlifted to 92 Base Hospital in Badami Bagh cantonment area, where Major Pandey and Sepoy Tanzin succumbed to their injuries," officials said.
Earlier on Wednesday, an encounter in the Valley's Kulgam district saw two militants killed. One of the slain militants has been identified as Aqib Ahmad Itoo who had been part of an attack on a bank's cash van on 1 May this year.
Police said three weapons were recovered during joint operations by the Army, the Central Reserve Police Force and state police in Gopalpora village in Kulgam district, including one looted from a police post on 16 October.
On Tuesday, top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Dujana, 26, a Pakistani national suspected to be behind several attacks in South Kashmir, and his local associate, Arif Ahmad Dar, 17, were killed in an encounter at Harkipora village in Pulwama district (See: 1 killed in clashes after encounter death of terrorist Abu Dujana).
''It is a big achievement for us since this terrorist (Dujana) had been spreading terror for a long time … he was an A++ category militant,'' said Director General of Police S P Vaid.
Dujana, who carried a reward of Rs15 lakh on his head, is suspected to have sneaked into the Valley some years ago. Dar, his associate, was from the neighbouring Lelhar village and had turned militant about a year ago. While Dar was buried in Lelhar, Dujana's body was yet to be handed over to his next of kin.
Dujana was elevated as the top Lashkar commander after the killing of Abu Qasim in 2015. He was also one of the top Lashkar recruiters, especially in South Kashmir. His name figured in a recent list released by the Army of top militant commanders active in South Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the ministry of home affairs said Wednesday that 109 militants have been killed in the first seven months of 2017. In a statement in Rajya Sabha, minister of state (home) Hansraj Ahir said 184 incidents of violence were reported from Jammu and Kashmir till the end of July 2017.
There were 155 incidents last year during the same period. Violence has risen successively in the past three years with 222 incidents in 2014, 208 in 2015 and 322 in 2016. Killings of civilians, security forces and militants too have increased.
The number of militants killed was 150 last year, before reaching 109 until end-July this year. According to the MHA, 15 civilian deaths were reported last year; this year until July 19 civilians have been killed, besides 38 security personnel.