Security forces shot dead three militants in Jammu and Kashmir's Budgam district, sparking street clashes in Srinagar which injured several civilian protestors and security personnel on Wednesday, officials said.
Police said one of the killed Hizbul Mujahideen militants was also involved in the lynching of Deputy Superintendent of Police Muhammad Ayub Pandit outside a mosque here last month.
The three militants were killed after a gunfight with security forces in a village that began the previous day, officials said. The battle started on Tuesday evening after security forces laid a cordon around Radbug village, some 30 km from here.
The militants opened fire when the cordon around the house in which they were hiding was tightened, a police officer said.
The operation, carried out jointly by the police, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Army, was halted after it got dark overnight. The exchange of fire resumed on Wednesday morning.
The militants rushed out of their hideout firing indiscriminately in a bid to escape. The security forces returned the fire and killed all the three, the officer said. Two security personnel were also injured and have been admitted to hospital.
Police said that the militants were asked to surrender through their family members, but had refused.
The slain men were identified as Javed Sheikh, Dawood and Sajad Ahmed Gilkar. Sheikh was the Hizbul district commander. Sheikh and Gul were residents of Budgam district, CRPF DIG M. Dinakaran said. Gilkar hailed from Srinagar's Nowhatta. Police however identified one as Aaqib Gul.
Police spokesman Manoj Pandita said that Gilkar played a key role in the murder of DSP Pandit of Security Wing, who was lynched to death at Jamia Masjid Nowhatta here and had been also involved in grenade attacks on CRPF at Nowhatta on April 2 and police at Khanyar on April 3, on the CRPF camp in Safa Kadal area of Srinagar on June 11 and an attack on an army convoy near Bemina area of Srinagar on April 1.
The killed militants were also said to be involved in recent weapon snatching incidents and attacks on security forces in south and central Kashmir as well as damaging of government property and stone pelting incidents.
Dinakaran said an AK-56 assault rifle, a self-loading rifle, a pistol and seven magazines were recovered from the shootout site.
During the fighting, the security forces came under attack from villagers who hurled stones at them in a bid to help the militants escape.
"Villagers resorted to heavy stone pelting at the security forces to disrupt our operation. However, they were chased away," Dinakaran told IANS.
Clashes broke out in Nowhatta in Srinagar's Old City area on Wednesday after stone pelters clashed with security forces as news of Gilkar's death in Badgam became known.
Authorities then imposed curfew in the areas of Rainawari, Nowhatta, M.R. Gunj, Khanyar and Safa Kadal in Srinagar.
Several protestors and security personnel in addition to a photo journalist were injured in the clashes.
Meanwhile, scores of people offered funeral prayers for Javed Sheikh in Sadpora village of Badgam district, reports reaching here said.
Authorities have suspended mobile Internet services in Badgam and Srinagar districts to check the spread of militant propaganda.