J&K Police said two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants, including local commander Uzair Khan, have been encircled by security forces in the forest in south Kashmir.

Fresh firing and blasts were heard as the counter-terrorist operation in the Gadole forest of Kokernag in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district entered its third day on Friday. Two army officers and a Jammu and Kashmir Police DSP made the supreme sacrifice when they came under attack by hiding terrorists of Lashkar-e-Toiba early on Wednesday.

Since Friday morning, sources said army and police teams have been firing towards the place where they believe the two to three terrorists could be hiding.

Locals confirmed hearing blasts in the morning near the encounter spot. “Since morning, the firing has been taking place at intervals near the spot that has been encircled by the security forces, comprising army, police and CRPF personnel. Throughout the night, the security forces had kept a close cordon around the forest,” said a resident of Gadol, requesting anonymity.

Colonel Manpreet Singh, the commanding officer of 19 Rashtriya Rifles, Major Aashish Dhonchak, also from the same battalion, and deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Humayun Muzamil Bhat suffered fatal injuries during the operation on Wednesday.

Police on Thursday said two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants, including local commander Uzair Khan, have been encircled by the forces.

Khan, who had joined militant ranks last year, was acting as the Lashkar commander in the area as he is well-versed about the forest topography and its adjoining localities.

On Wednesday evening, Jammu and Kashmir director general of police Dilbag Singh had said that perpetrators of the criminal act would be brought to justice soon.

The falcon squad of The Resistance Front (TRF) had claimed responsibility for the attack on social media, claiming that it was carried out to avenge the killing of Mohammad Riyaz, who belonged to Poonch, in Rawalkote in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir recently.

Members of civil society in different parts of Kashmir Valley held candle-light marches on Thursday evening to pay homage to the martyrs.

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