The encounter in Kupwara started on Tuesday afternoon

SRINAGAR: Four security forces personnel and four militants have been killed in the encounter that has been underway for more than 30 hours in Kupwara district of north Kashmir, a defence spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The encounter started on Tuesday afternoon and is likely to continue overnight with army sources claiming two more militants were present in the area. Following the encounter, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti called off a party convention in Kupwara she was scheduled to address on Thursday.

Two armymen killed in the encounter were Muhammad Ashraf Rather and Naik Ranjeet Singh of 160 battalion of Territorial Army, while the two others killed were identified as Muhammad Yousuf Cheche and Deepak Pandit of Special Operations Group of J&K police.

“Two army soldiers and two SOG jawans martyred in ongoing operations,” a Srinagar-based defence spokesperson confirmed. J&K police chief SP Vaid confirmed that bodies of the four militants, who were killed the previous day, were recovered from the spot.

The encounter started on Tuesday at around 2:45pm in forest area of Halmatpora, Arampora villages of Kupwara, which is one of the major routes for infiltration.

“As of now reports suggest that five militants had infiltrated recently and two militants had gone to receive them,” a senior police official told ET. The encounter spot is around six kms from main Halmatpora village in the forests, which has no drivable road.

“The identity of militants cannot be ascertained as of now and things will be more clear tomorrow,” said a police official.

According to various data compiled by the government and civil society groups, at least 28 militants, 15 armed forces personnel and 13 civilians were killed in Kashmir this year.

‘Operation All Out’ to wipe out militancy in J&K killed 213 militants in 2017, and 28 more so far this year. As per official data, around 124 militants managed to infiltrate last year, while an equal number of locals joined the militant ranks during the same period.