4 civilians, soldier killed in Kuglam

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Five houses, three shops damaged, militants escape

Kulgam, Apr 11: At least 4 civilians were killed and 78 people were wounded some of them critically when clashes erupted during a fierce gunfight in Khudwani area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
A soldier S. Gunakar Rao was killed in the gun fight while two others suffered injuries. All the three militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba managed to escape from the spot.
“It was mayhem in Khudwani Wanimohalla. Bullets and pellets rained everywhere in response to the stones hurled by protesters who were hell-bent to move towards the encounter site to help militants escape,” said an eyewitness.
The gunfight started on Tuesday night when after receiving a tip off, government forces cordoned off Wani Mohalla Khudwani village. Three militants were trapped in a house. After initial exchange of fire, the operation was halted till dawn while all arrangements were put in place to prevent militants from escaping.
As the exchange of fire started on Wednesday morning, large number of people from adjoining areas hit to roads and clashed with government forces.
The protesting youth resorted to massive stone-pelting while government forces fired bullets and pellets leaving scores of people injured. Medical sources said that at least 82 people suffered injuries out of which 4 succumbed to their injuries.
The deceased were identified as Sharjeel Ahmed Sheikh, Bilal Ahmed Dar, Ajaz Ahmed Pala and a minor boy Faisal Illahi.
Sixty injured were shifted to PHC Qaimouh while 18 were admitted in Kulgam and Anantnag hospitals out of which 8 were referred to Srinagar hospitals.
Government Forces blasted the houses in which militants were trapped. Locals said that five houses and three shops were completely damaged that belonged to Ghulam Muhammad Wani, Bashir Ahmed Lone, Bilal Ahmed Dar, Muhammad Yousuf Wani and Muhammd Latif Wani. The three shops belonging to Bashir Ahmed Lone were also damaged during the encounter.
Reports said that Army used helicopter gunships against militants.
Witnesses said that helicopter gunships were used to fire at the house where militants were holed up.
“Huge blasts were heard after helicopter gunships fired at the house,” they said.
Sources said that all the three militants managed to escape from the gunfight spot. Sources identified those militants as Muhammad Azad Pala alias Zaid, Bilal Ahmed alias Asim and Suhail Ahmed Dar of Redwani, all affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba. (CNS)