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Army captain, two militants killed in Kashmir battle (Third Lead)

Srinagar, March 4 (IANS) An Indian Army captain was killed, the second loss of an officer in less than 10 days in Jammu and Kashmir, and two guerrillas were shot dead in a gunfight Thursday, officials said.

Captain Deepak Sharma was killed in the battle which began Wednesday and resumed Thursday morning in Dadsara village, 35 km from here in south Kashmir Pulwama district, army spokesman Col J.S. Brar told reporters.

Sharma, who belonged to Rohtak in Haryana, was in the army for six years, and was serving in the counter-insurgency Rashtriya Rifles in the terror-riven state.

‘Two militants were killed in the exchange of fire. Their bodies are under the debris (of the house which was razed in the shootout),’ Brar said.

A police official said that the operation continued for about 30 hours and the army and police were busy in the mopping up operation.

‘The firing has stopped and soldiers are looking for hidden explosives under the debris,’ the police officer said.

He said three soldiers were wounded in the gunfight that came after less than 10 days of a north Kashmir shootout in Sopore town. The battle on Feb 23 claimed the life of Captain Devinder Singh Jass.

The south Kashmir gun battle erupted Wednesday morning after police, paramilitary forces and the army in a joint operation surrounded a house in the village. They said they had a specific input about presence in the house of a group of heavily armed guerrillas, suspected to be of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

As the security forces challenged the hiding guerrillas to surrender, they opened fire, triggering heavy exchange of bullets, the police officer said.

The house in which militants were hiding was blasted Wednesday evening. One militant was killed before the operation was suspended due to darkness.

The other holed up guerrilla managed to enter an adjacent house in the cover of the darkness. The heavy exchange of fire resumed Thursday morning.

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