Srinagar: Three Army personnel, including a Colonel commanding a battalion and a Major, and a Deputy Superintendent of Jammu and Kashmir Police were killed in a gunfight with terrorists in the higher reaches of Kokorenag area in the valley while one soldier was missing, officials said here on Wednesday.
Colonel Manpreet Singh, Commanding Officer of 19 Rashtriya Rifles, Major Ashish Dhonack, and Deputy Superintendent Humayun Bhat were critically injured in the gunfight with terrorists that ensued in the Garol area of Anantnag district in the morning hours of Wednesday.
The officers succumbed to their injuries during the treatment, the officials said, adding a jawan also died. The whereabouts of another soldier was not immediately known and it is feared he might have been seriously wounded.
DGP Dilbag Singh condoled the death of the braveheart officers of police and army. In a message, he said every loss of life is unfortunate and asserted that the perpetrators of the crime would be brought to justice soon.
He extended his sympathies to the bereaved families.
Bhat, father of a two-month-old daughter and son of retired Inspector General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Ghulam Hasan Bhat, died due to heavy blood loss, they added.
The banned Resistance Front, believed to be a shadow group of Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Officials believe that it is the same set of terrorists who had carried out the attack on army personnel on August 4 killing three jawans in the higher reaches of the Halan forest area of Kulgam district.
The operation against the terrorists began on Tuesday evening in Garol area but was called off during the night.
This morning, the hunt for the terrorists resumed after information started trickling that they were spotted at a hideout, the officials said.
Colonel Singh, leading his team from the front, attacked the terrorists. However, he was critically injured in the bullets fired by the terrorists.
Singh, who belonged to 12th Sikh LI, was a recipient of Sena medal. Dhonack belonged to 15th Sikh LI.
Dhonack and Bhat were also hit by bullets resulting in critical injuries, the officials said.
Senior army and police officers, GoC 15 Corps Lt General Rajiv Ghai and including DGP Dilbag Singh rushed to the spot to assess the situation.
Earlier Jammu and Kashmir Police had posted on social media handle that an "encounter has started in #Kokernag area of #Anantnag. Officers from Army and JKP injured. Details shall follow".
Kashmir-based XV corps also gave details that "based on specific intelligence on presence of terrorists a Joint Operation was launched by #IndianArmy & @JmuKmrPolice on the intervening night of 12-13 Sep in Area Garol, Anantnag.
"Contact established and firefight ensued. Two Army personnel and one J&K Police personnel injured. Operation in progress."
In the evening, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh, Additional Director General of Police (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar along with other senior officers paid floral tributes to the slain DySP.
The attack comes a day after an Army personnel and Kent, a six-year-old female Labrador of the Army's dog unit, were killed and three security personnel injured in the gunfight in South of Pir Panjal at Rajouri in Jammu region. Two terrorists were killed in an encounter in the remote Narla village.
Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah offered his condolences.
"Terrible terrible news from J&K. An army colonel, a major and a J&K Police DYSP gave the ultimate sacrifice in an encounter in Kokernag area of South Kashmir today. DySP Humayan Bhat, Major Ashish Dhonack, and Colonel Manpreet Singh laid down their lives in an encounter with terrorists. May their souls rest in peace & may their loved ones find strength at this difficult time," he posted on X.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti while offering condolences to the bereaved families said there was no place for such acts of violence.
People's Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone also condoled the death of the bravehearts. Paying tributes to the three fallen officers, BJP leader Altaf Thakur said the security forces are committee to root out terror from Jammu and Kashmir.