2 militants killed in Shopian gunfight

Two Lashker-e-Toiba militants were killed in a fire fight with the security forces at a village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district in the small hours on Sunday. At least six civilians suffered injuries during the clashes that broke out around the gun battle site.

This is the second gunfight in the district over past 48 hours.

The slain militants were identified as Javaid Ahmad Bhat son of Ali Mohammad Bhat of Redwani, Qaimoh, Kulgam, and Aadil Bashir Wani son of Bashir Ahmad Wani of Waripora-DH Pora, Kulgam.

While Aadil had joined militancy last week, Javed had been active since July 7, 2017, police said.

A police official told Greater Kashmir that a joint team of army’s 34 RR and SOG men surrounded HendSitapora village on the edge of Shopian district following the “definite information” about the presence of the militants in the area.

The official said that as “the meticulously planned search operation was in progress”, militants hiding in the area opened fire on the forces at around 3:40 am.

“The forces returned the fire leading to a gun battle which ended with the killing of the two militants,” he said.

A police spokesperson in a statement said that both the slain militants were “wanted by law” for their “complicity in a series of attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities”.

The spokesperson said that Javaid was also responsible for recruiting youth from adjoining areas of Kulgam for proscribed militant outfit.

“Similarly Adil was involved in several attacks and several cases were registered against him,” the spokesperson said. He said that incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site.

CLASHES

“As the operation was in progress, some people neared the gun battle site and threw rocks on the forces in a bid to stymie the operation”, another police official said, adding that the forces fired pellets and smoke shells in response, which caused injuries to some of them.

A health official at district hospital Kulgam said that they received five persons with pellet injuries at the facility.

“Of them, four were hit in their eyes and they were sent to SMHS in Srinagar for advanced treatment,” he said.

Some youth also pelted forces with stones near GoleChakri, Shopian after the fire-fight ended. The forces fired tear smoke shells and pellets which resulted in the injury of one person.

“With his back suffused with blood, he was evacuated to sub district hospital Shopian for treatment,” an eyewitness said.

Later in the afternoon, the bodies of both the slain militants were handed over to their families.

Local residents told Greater Kashmir that a large number of mourners converged in the native villages of slain militants and participated in their last rites. Multiple rounds of funeral prayers, according to the residents, were held for the militants.

Following the gunfight, authorities in both Shopian and Kulgam districts blocked the mobile internet services.