Srinagar: A minor girl was shot fatally inside her home in north Kashmir's Kupwara district where a gun battle ended today afternoon with three suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba militants dead.

Officials said the encounter broke out early in the morning after forces were tipped off about the presence of militants in Kalaroos area of Kupwara. During the initial exchange of fire, a J&K Policeman was hit.

"The encounter has ended. Bodies of three militants have been recovered and their identity is being ascertained. 3 AK-47 rifles and some arms and ammunition were also recovered," sources said.

According to the Army, the girl was hit by a "stray bullet" during the fierce exchange of gunfire between the two sides. "Her six-year brother was also injured during the shooting," sources said.

"A minor girl namely Kaneeza and a minor boy Faisal were injured after they were hit by stray bullets more than 100 meters away from the encounter site,” said a J&K Police spokesman.

The condition of the boy, who is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Srinagar, is reportedly stable. The family could not be reached for their comments.

Police sources said there was no law and order situation in the area when the encounter that lasted for nearly eight hours, was taking place.

The tragic incident, second of its kind this week, is likely to perpetuate tension in the restive Kashmir Valley where violence has spiked this year as forces face new law and order challenges.

Earlier, a youth was shot dead and another died mysteriously during protests as locals tried to break the cordon around the site of an encounter in south Kashmir's Padgampora village.

Two local militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba were also killed during the encounter on March 10.

Locals in south Kashmir, including woman and children, coverge at the site of encounters, sometimes putting themselves in the line of fire, to distract forces and help the trapped militants in fleeing.

However, in Kupwara, sources said there was no such law and order problems. "We are gathering information about the incident. Guilty will not be spared. What haapened in the case is a matter of investigation," a senior police officer said, wishing anonymity.