Four civilians, soldier die in Kashmir, militants escape

Security forces, militants clash in Kashmir's Kulgam district

"A joint team of the army and special operations group of police cordoned off the area and appealed the militants to surrender", a senior police officer said.

An army soldier and a civilian were killed during an ongoing gunbattle in south Kashmir's Kulgam district on Wednesday morning, officials said.

There were also reports of locals pelting stones on security forces during the encounter.

Earlier, it was reported that two militants were killed in the encounter as the house in which the ultras were trapped was blasted by security forces.

While the firefight was underway, surging crowds made repeated attempts to reach the encounter site and clashed with the security forces, officials said.

The martyred soldier has been identified as Sepoy Sada Gunakara Rao.

Locals in Indian occupied Kashmir protesting.

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"Army had even used helicopter gunships to fight out the militants".

The four slain civilians were identified as 28-year-old Sharjeel Ahmad Sheikh, 16-year-old Bilal Ahmad Tantray, 14-year-old Faisal Elahi and Ajaz Ahmad Palla.

Sixty injured were shifed to PHC Qaimouh while 18 were admitted in Kulgam and Anantnag hospitals out of which 8 were referred to Srinagar hospitals. Informed sources said over 40 civilians were injured in street clashes.

The latest civilian killings has added to the tensions prevailing in Kashmir following last weekend's violence in which five civilians and 13 militants were killed by security forces.

As the news of civilian deaths spread, protests broke out in several areas of north Kashmir including Baramulla, Bandipora and Sopore towns, officials said.

In a statement, the pro-independence leadership in the region called for a two-day shutdown in protest against the killings.

One jawan and three civilians have lost their lives in the encounter till now.

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