Srinagar: Three militants, including top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Yasin Itoo, were killed in an over 24 hour-long gunfight that ended on Sunday in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian district and also left two soldiers dead. A dozen stone-pelting protesters were injured in clashes with security forces in the area.
Yasin Itoo, alias Mehmood Ghaznavi, the operational commander of the Hizbul, was among those killed in the gunfight in Awneera village in Shopian.
The other two slain militants were identified as Umar Majid and Irfan.
Earlier, the third militant was believed to be Adil Malik.
Itoo, also spelt as Yatoo, was a resident of Chadoora area of Badgam district. One of the longest surviving militant commanders, he had joined militancy in 1997.
The three slain militants were locals belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit. Three AK-47 rifles were recovered from their possession.
The house in Awneera village in which the militants had been hiding was blasted by the security forces.
Jammu and Kashmir police chief S.P. Vaid tweeted on the success: "One of terrorists killed today morning at Shopian is identified as Yasin Itoo; operational commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. Great success!"
In an earlier post he said: "Today morning three terrorists eliminated at Zainpora Shopian. Well done boys!"
Over a dozen youth were injured in clashes with security forces as they pelted stones during the operation in Awneera village.
One protester sustained a bullet injury and was shifted for treatment to Srinagar city.
Another protester with pellet injuries to his eyes was referred by doctors to a hospital in Srinagar.
A senior police officer said two militants had managed to escape from the cordoned area during the operation.
Five army soldiers were injured in the gunfight. Two injured soldiers later succumbed to critical injuries.
The injured soldiers are being treated at the army's base hospital in Badami Bagh area of Srinagar.
Earlier, acting on specific information, the security forces surrounded Awneera village on Saturday evening upon which they were fired at by the militants, leading to the gunfight, a police spokesman said.
Seven civilians had sustained pellet injuries on Saturday when protesters engaged the security forces in clashes to break the cordon around the site of the gunfight.
Internet services have been blocked in Badgam district following the identification of Itoo among the slain militants.
In another incident, three security personnel, including two policemen and an army soldier, sustained injuries when militants fired at a cordon laying party in Hajin area of Bandipora district on Sunday.
The cordon and search operation was later called off as the militants managed to escape from the area.