5 terrorists killed in 18-hour Kulgam encounter

Photo: Jammu and Kashmir Police Department

Srinagar, Nov 17: Five local terrorists of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were killed in an 18-hour-long anti-insurgency operation in Kulgam district.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, South Kashmir Range (SKR), Rayees Muhammad Bhat said that the five terrorists were involved in a number of assaults on the minorities, besides attacks on security forces.

This was a major anti-insurgency operation in south Kashmir since the September 13 operation in the Garol forests of Anantnag in which four security forces personnel including three officers, and two terrorists were killed in a week-long operation.

The encounter in the Samno Nehama area of Kulgam broke out Thursday late afternoon after J&K Police, 34 Rashtriya Rifles, 9 Para, and CRPF cordoned off the area on specific inputs of the presence of terrorists in the area.

As joint parties undertook searches in cordoned-off areas on Thursday, the terrorists who were hiding in two residential houses opened fire at them.

The fire was retaliated, triggering an encounter.

In the backdrop of darkness, the operation was suspended for the night amid a tight cordon.

The gunfight resumed on Friday morning, resulting in the killing of five local LeT terrorists – among them, four were residents of the Shopian district of south Kashmir while the fifth one was a resident of Kulgam.

“Kulgam Update – Day 2: Five #terrorists neutralized by Kulgam Police, Army, and CRPF. #Incriminating materials recovered. #Operation in the final stage; area being sanitized.@JmuKmrPolice,” Kashmir Zone Police posted on X.

Earlier, IGP Kashmir Virdi Kumar Birdi said that the bodies of the slain terrorists had been retrieved and the area was being sanitised.

He said that the bodies of the slain terrorists were located through drone footage.

Later, the Army said that the operation had been concluded.

“OP SAMNU, #KulgamOn specific intelligence regarding presence of terrorists, a Joint Operation was launched on 16 Nov by #IndianArmy, @JmuKmrPolice & @crpf_srinagar in general area Samnu, Kulgam.

The area was cordoned & search was conducted, resulting in a firefight. Five Terrorists have been eliminated along with the recovery of 04xAK Rifles, 01xPistol & other war-like stores. The operation has been concluded.#Kashmir@adgpi@NorthernComd_IA,” Chinar Corps- Indian Army posted on X.

Soon after the mopping of the area was completed, Deputy Inspector General of Police, SKR, Rayees Muhammad Bhat told reporters that contact was established with the terrorists of the LeT who were hiding in some residential houses of the village.

“In the ensuing encounter, five terrorists of LeT were killed. The five terrorists have been identified as Sameer Ahmed Sheikh of Shopian, Danish Thokar of Shopian, Ubaid Patr of Shopian, Hanzara Shah of Shopian and Yasif Bhatt of Kulgam,” he said. “During the operation, four AK series rifles, two pistols, four grenades and other arms and ammunition were recovered.”

The DIG, accompanied by Commander 2 Sector R R, Bridger Anirudh Chauhan and SSP Kulgam Sahil Sangral, said that the operation had started after a lot of synergised effort of all the security forces that operate in the area.

“It is a big success because these terrorists have been involved in several attacks on minorities, besides security forces,” he said. “Some of these attacks I will enumerate here. An attack happened last year in Shopian in which one Kashmiri Pandit was attacked namely Sonu Pandit at Chotigam they were involved in that terror attack besides this there was another attack on minorities in the Heerpora of Shopian and there was also an attack on a cordon party in Kashmir. The attack on non-local labourers earlier this year in Gagran was also done by them.”

Bhat said that the terrorist Sameer Farooq Sheikh was also involved in instigating and luring local youth to join terrorist ranks besides being involved in the attack on the minority picket at Heepora Batagund, Shopian.

Commander 2 Sector R R, Bridger Anirudh Chauhan, during the press briefing, said that this was a collaborative effort of the Army over a sustained period in Kulgam district wherein the presence of five terrorists was reported in Samno village of Kulgam.

Brigadier Chauhan said that the contact was established with speed and strength and while the search was in progress, the terrorists from a house opened fire at the troops and the contact was established at 6 pm.

“The troop evacuated the civilians living in the vicinity to safety and carried out a deliberate operation which later entered into second lasted for. The operation ended in the neutralisation of five hardcore LeT terrorists,” he said. “While carrying out the operation the troops remained dedicated and displayed restraint, and caution to ensure minimum collateral damage to locals. The results which the Army has attained are unprecedented which thwarted the nefarious designs of terrorists to escalate violence in Kashmir.”

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