Srinagar, Aug. 9: Al Qaida's Kashmir affiliate Ansar Ghazwat-ul Hind suffered a second setback in less than 10 days when security forces killed three militants of the group in south Kashmir's Pulwama today.
A teenager died after security forces fired pellets at a mob that had assembled near the encounter site and had thrown stones at a camp.
Two insurgents of the group were slain in a gunfight with security forces on August 1, the first killings of militants associated with any global terror outfit in the Valley.
One of the two was Abu Dujana, one of the most wanted militants. He was with the Lashkar but had reportedly been sidelined and, according to police, was tipped to join the al Qaida unit.
But Zakir Musa, who leads the Ansar, had claimed in a video after Dujana's death that the Pakistani militant had already joined the outfit. Musa is from south Kashmir's Tral and was expelled by the Hizbul in May for espousing a pan-Islamist agenda this year.
Speaking about today's operation, a police spokesperson said Zahid Ahmad Bhat, Mohammad Ishaq Bhat and Mohammad Ashraf Dar were killed in a gunfight with forces of the army's 42 Rashtriya Rifles, CRPF and the police.
The operation was launched after inputs about the presence of the militants in a house in Pulwama's Gulab Bagh village. A defence spokesperson said the three were asked to surrender but refused.
According to the police, when the encounter ended, a mob threw stones at a camp nearby. "During a law and order situation, one person sustained pellet injuries and later succumbed to his injuries," the official said.
Police sources said Younis Ahmad Sheikh, 16, took pellets in his chest and succumbed at a Srinagar hospital. The killings sparked tension in Pulwama._
Locals said the brother of Ashraf, one of the three killed, was getting married today and the celebrations turned into mourning after news about the militant's death. Ashraf and the other two rebels had figured in photos of nine militants released recently by the al Qaida unit.
However, a spokesperson for the Hizbul - of which the three were members earlier - claimed they were returning to its fold. The police said the trio were involved in a series of attacks.