Bodies of three Hizbul Mujahideen militants were recovered from debris in Pulwama on Tuesday morning, at the end of a 24-hour encounter.“The encounter started on Monday morning and one militant was killed in the initial exchange of fire. The other militants took shelter in houses. “The operation ended around 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Three bodies and three weapons were recovered,” said Inspector- General of Police, Kashmir, Muneer Khan. He said a search operation was on, as the security agencies suspect a “fourth body” could be buried in the debris.Shifting positionsFive houses were seen burning on Tuesday as the militants, who were frequently shifting positions, engaged the security forces in a long- drawn battle. Four security personnel, one a CRPF officer, were injured in the gunfight.“The operation became prolonged as the village Buhmoo is located on a raised ground. They had a dominating position. Room-to-room intervention was not easy. We had to proceed strategically to avoid collateral damage,” Mr. Khan said.Operation delayedThe operation was also delayed as the residents marched along the roads and threw stones. Scores were injured in clashes in the past 24 hours.Meanwhile, two slain militants were identified as Kifayat and Jehangir. The identity of the third could not be ascertained. Reports suggest multiple funerals were held for Jehangir, a resident of Chak Keller in Shopian district, where anti-India and pro-freedom slogans were raised.
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