Police officials said that after the civilians were killed in the cross fire, the operation had to be called off for a brief time, to allow police and CRPF to disperse the mob that had gathered across the river.
There were also reports of locals pelting stones on security forces during the encounter.
Apart from it, two security personnel and over 40 civilians were injured in the ongoing operation, said the police official adding that the injured jawans were being treated at the Army's 92 base hospital in Srinagar. The police official said that the gunbattle broke out between the militants and security forces in the early hours today. After initial exchange of fire, the operation was halted till dawn while all arrangements were put in place to prevent militants from escaping.
Police issued a statement saying the civilian deaths took place as a result of crossfire between the militants and security forces.
Doctors said a civilian, Faisal Elahi, 15, was brought to a hospital in Qaimoh town in Kulgam district and he succumbed to critical bullet injuries. It was not immediately known how the deceased got injured, they said. The three LeT terrorists, who had escaped, later resurfaced at the encounter site after security forces withdrew the cordon.
The news of civilian killings triggered protests in Srinagar and other places.
Wednesday's incidents come close on the heels of days of disturbances witnessed in Kashmir Valley in the aftermath of the killing of 14 militants and five civilians as security forces stepped up counterinsurgency measures in the first week of April.
One army man has also been killed during the gunfight. The joint separatist leadership is expected to mobilise protesters to agitate against the civilian killings.
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