2 militants killed in Shopian gunfight

Two militants were killed in a gunfight with security forces here in south Kashmir on Saturday morning. This was the first encounter in Shopian town, one of the Valley’s nerve centres for apple trade, in the past 11 years.

A police official said that a joint team of Army, SOG and CRPF personnel ring fenced Bonabazar area of Shopian town after they received inputs about presence of militants.

The forces, according to the official, immediately started a door-to-door search operation, which continued throughout the night.

On early Saturday morning, at around quarter past eight, militants hiding in KhandayMohalla, a tiny and dense locality deep in Bonabazar, opened fire on the forces, the official said. The forces retaliated at full throttle, triggering an encounter, he said.

The gunfight ended barely after half an hour with the killing of both the militants.

The official identified one of the slain militants as Mir ZeenatUl Islam, son of Muhammad Ishaq Mir of Tukawangam, Shopian. The other militant, the official said, was a Pakistani national code named Munna. Zeenat, according to the official, had joined militancy on March 23 this year.

Last time the town witnessed an encounter in January 2008 when two local militants were killed in Aliyalpora area of the borough.

Two civilians also suffered pellet injuries during the clashes that broke out alongside the gun battle site.

In a statement a police spokesperson said Zeenat was associated with HizbulMujahideen while Munna was active with Jaish-e-Muhammad militant outfit.

The spokesperson said the duo was wanted by law for their complicity in several militancy related incidents including attacks on security establishment and “civilian atrocities”.

Munna was involved in a case pertaining to an IED blast in Arihal area of Pulwama in which two security personnel were killed, said the police spokesperson.

Another police official said when the operation was in progress bands of youth poured into the streets and threw rocks on the forces in a bid to disrupt the operation. He said the forces responded by firing pellets and tear smoke shells to scare the stone-throwing-men away.

“This (action by the forces) might have resulted in superficial injuries to few of them,” the official said.

Medical Superintendent District Hospital Shopian confirmed that the two youth with pellet injuries were received at the facility. “After the proper treatment, both of them were discharged from the hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile, mourners converged in the native village of Zeenat to participate in his last rites. “Multiple rounds of funeral prayers were held for the slain militants before he was buried in his ancestral graveyard”, said the eyewitnesses.

A complete shutdown was observed in the entire town with authorities shutting all the educational institutions in the area. The authorities also blocked the cellular internet service in the entire district.