A police officer said that two militants were killed in the exchange of heavy fire and their identities and group affiliations are being ascertained

Five security personnel, including two army men, were killed while eight others including a CRPF commandant were wounded after a militant presumed dead in an encounter opened fire in Handwara area of north Kashmir's frontier Kupwara district on Friday.

A civilian was also killed during the clashes near gunfight site as protesters tried to disrupt the anti-militancy operation, reports said.

Sources said as a joint search team of army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and state police went to retrieve the bodies of two slain militants, one of them, earlier believed to be dead, stood up and fired indiscriminately leading to grievous bullet injuries to nine security personnel.

While two army men, two CRPF personnel and a policeman succumbed to their injuries other wounded soldiers were shifted to army’s 92-base hospital in Srinagar, where their condition is stated to be critical, they said.

The gunfight, which broke out late Thursday night after security forces launched a cordon-and-search-operation (CSO) at Khanan Babagund in Langate, 105 kms from here, was going on when reports last came in.

“There was input about presence of two Jaish-e-Mohammad militants in the area and the house where they were hiding was brought down by the security forces. It was presumed that both the militants were dead,” source said.

“However, one of them emerged from the debris of the house and indiscriminately fired on security forces causing huge causalities,” they said and added security forces have installed lights in the area to prevent the escape of the militants during the night.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out near the encounter site between security forces and youth in which three protesters were hit by pellets while one received bullet injury, who later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.

There has been huge increase in causalities to security forces in the recent weeks in militant attacks in Kashmir. On February 18, four soldiers, including an army Major and three Jaish militants, one of them being suspected of having plotted February 14 Puwlama suicide bomb attack, and a civilian were killed in 18-hour long gunfight in Pinglina village of south Kashmir’s volatile Pulwama district.

Ten security forces’ personnel, including a brigadier and a lieutenant colonel and a deputy inspector general of the Jammu and Kashmir police, were also injured in that gunfight.

Earlier on February 14, Adil Ahmad Dar, a 21-year-old local militant, had rammed a car packed with huge explosives into a CRPF convoy killing 49 paramilitary personnel and injuring dozens of others. It was the deadliest single attack on security forces in Kashmir. Jaish, the terror group that operates from Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for the attack.