2 militants, soldier killed in Qazigund gunfight

Militants take refuge in building—later razed to ground with IEDs—after attacking army convoy | 3 civilians injured in protests at gunfight site | DGP identifies slain militants as Furkan, Abu Mavia| LeT claims responsibility for convoy ambush

KHALID GUL
Anantnag, Publish Date: Dec 5 2017 12:29AM | Updated Date: Dec 5 2017 12:29AM
2 militants, soldier killed in Qazigund gunfightPhoto: Mir Wasim/GK

At least two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants and an army soldier were killed in a fierce gunfight that broke out after the militants attacked an army convoy in Qazigund area of Anantnag district on Monday, even as three civilians were also injured in protests near the gunfight site, the police said.

A police official told Greater Kashmir that at around 1:20 pm, an army convoy moving from Jammu towards Srinagar came under militant attack at NusuBadragund near Boonigamvillage  inQazigund area along the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

“The militants opened fire towards the army vehicles, which was retaliated. In the ensuing exchange of fire, which continued for some time, an army soldier was injured,” the official said, adding that the injured soldier was evacuated to the army’s base hospital in Srinagar.

The militants, after carrying out the attack, took shelter inside a building comprising a house and a shopping complex, he said.

Soon, a heavy contingent of army’s 9 Rashtriya Rifles, J&K police and CRPF rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area. “As the forces zeroed in on the building, a heavy exchange of fire started,” the official said.

He said that during the gunfight, the forces blasted the house with Improvised Explosive Devices and razed it to the ground.

A source said that the militants, however, offered stiff resistance and despite the huge concrete house flattened with IEDs, they took shelter in the shopping complex and resorted to heavy firing.

An army soldier, the source said, sustained critical injury in the gunfight and was shifted to army’s base hospital in Srinagar where he later succumbed. The deceased belonged to 10 Sikh regiment.

The source said that the two-storey shopping complex, belonging to the owner of the same house, was also blown up.

“Huge blasts with deafening sounds could be heard till late in the evening,” a group of local residents said.

A witness said that guns fell silent at around 5.30 pm, but a heavy exchange of fire again took place for some time at around 7 pm.

Soon, the forces installed lights and bought JCBs and started a search operation.

“Two bodies were retrieved from the debris while search is on to trace the possible third militant,” a police official said.

Director general of police SP Vaid took to twitter to confirm the identity of the slain militants. “Furkan, a Pakistani militant who took over as divisional commander of LeT after the elimination of Ismail was killed in today’s encounter at Qazigund, along with another Pakistani militant identified as Abu Mavia. Great success for security forces,” he wrote.

 

3 PROTESTERS INJURED

At least three people sustained injuries after government forces used live ammunition to disperse the protesters who tried to disrupt the anti-militancy operation, a source said.

He said that as a word about militants being holed up inside the house spread, youth in large numbers from the adjoining villages marched towards the gunfight site amid pro-freedom sloganeering.

The protesters resorted to heavy stone-pelting on forces from all sides, he said, adding that the forces in turn resorted to aerial firing and lobbed numerous teargas shells.

The source said that as the protesters refused to give in, the forces fired pellets and bullets, injuring at least three persons who were shifted to emergency hospital Qazigund where from they were referred to district hospital Anantnag. A CRPF vehicle (mobile bunker) also turned turtle during the clashes, the source said.

Medical superintendent of the hospital Dr Majid Mehrab told Greater Kashmir that they received two pellet-hit persons and one with fire arm injury.

“One of them Suhail Khan of NusuBadragund had bullet injury in lumbar region while another person named Obaid had pellets in eye. Zeegam, another injured person, had pellets in forehead,” he said.

Mehrab said that Obaid has been referred to SMHS hospital Srinagar for specialised treatment.

Kashmir range Inspector general of police Muneer Ahmad Khan confirmed the killing of two militants and an army man in the Qazigund gunfight.

“We have retrieved bodies of two militants and the search is on for the possible third militant,” the IGP said.

“Two civilians were also injured,” he said.

Meanwhile, the traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway came to halt soon after the gunfight erupted near Boonigam.

The passengers were forced to take Lower Munda-Verinag route.

The train service from Qazigund towards Srinagar was also suspended in the afternoon, an official said.

The mobile internet service in Anantnag and neighboring Kulgam district was also shut but broadband service remained operational.

The mobile phone subscribers also complained of erratic service following the gunfight.

 

LASHKAR CLAMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONVOY ATTACK

Militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba claimed responsibility for the attack on an army convoy on Srinagar-Jammu highway near Bonigam on Monday afternoon.

Local news agency CNS quoted Abdullah Ghaznavi, the LeT spokesperson, as saying in a statement: “The attack on army convoy was carried out by Bashir LashkariShaheed Squad. At least four army men were killed and several others injured.”