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Tral encounter leaves behind a trail of destruction.

A gunfight between forces and militants at Chankitar village in this township in southern Pulwama district Tuesday has left behind a trail of destruction. The gunfight which lasted for five hours left two houses damaged.

On Wednesday, thick curls of smoke were still emanating from the debris, though no one was seen going inside the crumbled structures as the police had raised a few banners asking people not to go closer to the gunfight site as littered explosives may endanger their lives.

All that is left of the two-storey house and a single-storey house is a few standing walls blemished with bullet holes, soot and broken bricks.The villagers said at around 10.30 am Tuesday, militants entered into Chankitar, some 5kms from main town Tral.

The cordon was already in place but militants had no idea where to go and went inside a residential house, they said.“There was no one at my home except our mother Khadija. Militants in an injured condition went inside the house. Khadija was advised by the militants to leave the house and stay quiet,” said a member of the family.

In no time, joint teams of police and army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles zeroed in on some houses in the area, according to an official.“Sure about the presence of militants in one of the houses, the forces launched the final assault.”“There was intense firing on both sides for five hours (till 6 pm), until the two houses were set ablaze. After that there was complete silence,” said Shabir Ahmad, a local resident.

Such was the intensity of shells used by forces that there is hardly any trace of household goods including utensils, he said. “Everything has been turned into ashes.”Villagers near the gunfight site alleged that forces personnel looted their money, spray motors, blankets, eatables and gas cylinders.

“I had purchased few spray motors for my orchard recently but all of them were stolen,” a local resident Muhammad Akbar Wani alleged.

Terming these allegations ‘baseless’, superintendent of police Awantipora Muhammad Zahid Malik told that no police personnel was involved in stealing anything from the residential houses.“If locals feel their stock was stolen, they should make a complaint before the police,” Malik said.

Meanwhile, little away from the encounter site, people were seen collecting money for the house owners, Sanaullah Mir and Ghulam Mohammad Mir, both farmers, whose dwellings were razed to the ground.

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