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Gunfights kill eight in Kashmir

  • Story Highlights
  • Militants had asked to surrender and then fired on troops, says officer
  • Holed-up militants were killed; four troopers were wounded, officer added
  • Shootout occurred in Banyari, 35 kilometers from Srinagar
  • Officer: In another gunfight, an Indian naval commando, army trooper were killed
From Mukhtar Ahmad
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SRINAGAR, India (CNN) -- An Indian army officer, a naval commando and two top militant commanders were among eight people killed in two extended gunfights in Indian-administered Kashmir, a senior police officer said Wednesday.

The officer said an army major of the elite counterinsurgency Rashtriya Rifles force and a soldier were killed by militant fire Tuesday evening when security forces stormed a house in Banyari, a village in the northern Kashmir district of Bandipora.

"The holed-up militants were asked to surrender, upon which they started indiscriminate firing at the troops. One major of the Rashtriya Rifles and a soldier were killed in the militant gunfire," said the officer, who declined to be named.

Reinforcements who were rushed to the village engaged the militants in a gunfight that lasted for nearly 24 hours before ending Wednesday evening, the officer said.

"Both the holed-up militants have been killed," he said. "Four other troopers were injured in this encounter."

The two slain militants, one of whom had been active in the area for the past six years, were top commanders belonging to the Hezbul Mujahedeen and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba organizations, the officer said.

Banyari is 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Srinagar, the summer capital of the India-administered region of Kashmir.

Another gunfight -- this one between Indian security forces and militants in a forest area of the adjoining Baramulla district -- also ended Wednesday, the officer said.

An Indian naval commando and an army trooper were killed as were two militants, he said. Another security force member was wounded.

The gunfight erupted after Indian army and naval commandos surrounded the forest area Tuesday morning after receiving information about the presence of militants, the officer said. The naval commandos, part of a unit stationed at nearby Wular Lake, were on hand to block a river running through the area.

"The hiding militants resorted to heavy automatic gunfire at the security forces, who retaliated, and in the ensuing gunfight two militants were gunned down," the officer said.

The two fierce encounters came just a day after the Muslim holy festival of Eid at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been plagued with secessionist violence that has claimed more than 43,000 lives, according to official figures. Various non-governmental organizations and rights groups put the number of dead at twice the official figure.

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