Srinagar: Four militants, a Jammu and Kashmir policeman and an Indian Army soldier were killed in an exchange of fire at Tral in Pulwama district on Tuesday.

The encounter pitted militants of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) against the state police’s special operations group (SOG), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Indian Army, the CRPF and state police confirmed.

J&K director general of police S.P. Vaid said that all four terrorists were gunned down.

“In the forest area Gutangoo in Tral in Pulwama (Kashmir), combined troops of 180 battalion of the CRPF, SOG of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and 42 Rashtriya Rifles of the Indian Army carried out combing and search operations wherein the encounter with militants started," said a senior CRPF officer, who asked not to be identified.

This attack comes just three weeks after security forces on 1 April gunned down 13 militants in Kashmir. Intelligence officials stated that this was just the beginning of many such encounters set to occur over the summer.

“The JeM especially has been targeting security establishments and security forces. It is not a coincidence, but a well thought out and planned exercise on their part. They have been identifying security camps and keeping a close watch with adequate help from local villagers. The security forces need to be extra vigilant now because the group is much stronger than before," said a senior intelligence official on condition of anonymity.

Defence experts added that with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism unlikely to abate in Jammu and Kashmir, India would have to continue to exercise a policy of strategic restraint.

“The present government has run out of options. Either we conduct covert operations without making a hue and cry about it and be prepared for Pakistan to retaliate in equal measure, or pin our hopes on bilateral and DGMO (director general of military operations) talks between the two armies," said Lt. Gen (retd) H.S. Panag, a defence expert.

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