Three Indian Army soldiers were among the 20 people killed on Sunday in three separate encounters in the Anantnag and Shopian districts of South Kashmir. As many as 13 terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT), some of them top commanders, were eliminated in the gunfights. Four  civilians also lost their life during the encounters. This is the highest number of terrorists killed in a single day after an operation in 2010.

At least six injured Army and CRPF personnel have been shifted to the Army hospital.

As many as 31 people part of a mob that had gathered at one of the encounter spots and pelted the security forces with stones in a bid to enable the terrorists to escape were injured as the police fired pellet guns to chase them away. Six of the injured had bullet wounds.

Among the slain terrorists were top commanders of the HM and LeT outfits, said J&K DGP S P Vaid in a joint media interaction in Srinagar where the Commander of the Chinar Corps, Lt Gen AK Bhat and top officers of CRPF were present.

Seven terrorists were killed at Dragad in Shopian and one at Dialgam in Anantnag. Five terrorists were killed at Kachdoora in Shopian, Vaid announced on Twitter. “Three bodies of terrorists recovered in Kachdoora Shopian”, he tweeted.

The three Army jawans were martyred during the encounters at Dragad and Kachdoora. The three are Sepoy Hetram (25), who belonged to Sonigarsar village in Bikaner district of Rajasthan, Gunner Nilesh Singh of Nagri village in Sultanpur district of UP, and Gunner Arvinder Kumar of Sariana village in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab.

Among the killed civilians was owner of the house where the terrorists were hiding.

The security advanced cautiously at Kachdoora where some civilians were trapped in the houses from where the terrorists were firing.

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Among the seven terrorists killed at Dragad were Reyaz Thoker (Padderpora) and Ishfaq Malik (Shopian) who had last year kidnapped and shot dead a young Kashmiri Muslim Army officer, Lt. Ummer Fayaz. The other slain terrorists have been identified as Zubair Ahmad Turay (Shopian), Yawar Itoo (Safanagri), Nazim Ahmad Dar (Urpora Nagbal), Adil Ahmad Thoker (Humhona) and Ubaid Ahmad Malla (Trenz). The terrorist killed at Dialgam has been identified as Rouf Ahmad Khandey.

Vaid said that the police chief of Anantnag and family members of a terrorist at Dialgam motivated him to surrender and he was caught alive.

The security force chiefs warned that while their men would exercise restraint during stone pelting by miscreants but the operations against terrorists would not be stopped. “We will not shy away from taking strict action” if the miscreants continued pelting stones with a view to help terrorists escape. They appealed the civilians not to gather at the encounter spots as they could be caught in the cross fire.

They said that the stone pelting during the encounter today in Shopian was unprecedented as a result of which there was no option but to open fire at the menacingly advancing mob.

The DGP said it was “painful” to see young boys involved in terrorism getting killed and he appealed to parents to urge them to the mainstream.

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The three encounters had started last evening when security forces cordoned the areas on specific intelligence inputs. AK 47, AK 56 rifles, grenades and other ammunition was recovered from the slain terrorists. Army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), 3 RR, 34 RR, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Special Operation Group (SOG) of the J&K Police were engaged in these operations.

Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who was on Friday released from house arrest, has given call for shutdown in Kashmir against killing of the terrorists and civilians.