SRINAGAR: Violent clashes between government forces and locals killed a civilian while several others suffered injuries near the site of an encounter in Kashmir which left six militants, including two top commanders, and an Army soldier dead today morning.

Local sources said Noman Ashraf Bhat, a resident of Bolsoo village of Kulgam district, was hit by a bullet when forces fired at protesters near the site of a gunfight in Batgund village of Kapran.

“At least seven protesters suffered firearm injuries, including pellet injuries and one of them has been referred to Srinagar for advanced treatment,” a doctor at a medical facility in Kulgam, where the injured were brought for treatment, said.

The injured victim, whose condition is stated to be critical, has been identified as Faizan Ahmad. “He was referred to SMHS hospital for specialised treatment,” sources said.

Earlier today, a gun-battle broke out in wee hours between forces and a group of militants who were hiding in a residential house in Kapran village. “The siege was laid around midnight and all the exit routes were plugged before the gunfight began,” a senior police officer said.

Officials said as the forces closed in on a residential house, the militants hiding there fired, resulting in injuries to an Army soldier, a Kashmiri, who was referred to a hospital where he succumbed to injuries.

“After the contact was established, the cordon was strengthened and all the militants hiding in the residential house were killed,” the police officer said.

Locals said the forces used high-power explosives to raze down the residential house where the militants were hiding, “Almost all the militants have been charred beyond recognition,” a local said, wishing anonymity.

The slain Army soldier has been identified as Nazir Ahmad who was deployed with 162 battalion of territorial army while another Army soldiers suffered bullet injury in his hand.

According to police sources, the slain militants have been identified as Umar Majid Ganai, an A++ category Hizb commander, Mushtaq Ahmad Mir, an A++ category Lashkar commander, Waseem Ah Wagay, Abbas Ahmed Bhat and Khalid Farooq Malik, all from Hizb outfit and another suspected foreigner.

The killings come barely days after six militants including three district commanders of Hizb and Lashkar were killed in an encounter with government forces in Shopian district which has emerged as the new epicentre of growing insurgency in Kashmir.

The latest civilian killing will further heighten tensions in the restive Valley where more than 400 people, including militants, civilians and security forces, have been killed, making 2018 one of the deadliest year in the three decade old insurgency.

(Cover Photo: BASIT ZARGAR)