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20-hour gunfight in Valley

Srinagar, April 14: Security forces killed two top Lashkar-e-Toiba militants in a fierce 20-hour gunfight in Srinagar today.

Two cops were injured in the gunfight, which reignited fears of a spurt in militancy ahead of parliamentary election in the Valley.

The slain militants have been identified as Abu Huzaifa and Chota Hafiz.

Kashmir police chief Abdul Gani Mir said they had inputs that Huzaifa could be a former policeman from Pakistan’s Sindh province. However, he told The Telegraph “without being 100 per cent sure I cannot speculate”.

A police spokesperson said the militants were killed during a joint operation by police, CRPF and the SSB after they zeroed in on a house.

Mir said the militants had forcibly entered the house and taken the family hostage. “The family was also beaten by them after they tried to escape.”

The house where the militants were hiding caught fire in the 20-hour gunfight.

Residents of the Srinagar’s Ahmad Nagar locality said the area was tense as gunshots were heard for hours. “It appears the militants let go the family members after which there was an assault (by forces) on the house,” a local said.

The gunfight was the third in Kashmir in less than a week.