2 militants killed in Srinagar outskirts

Two militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba including a commander were killed while a soldier was injured during an encounter in the outskirts of Srinagar on Saturday. The militants have been identified as Ishfaq Rashid Khan of Sozeith, Srinagar, and Ajaz Bhat of Pulwama.

The encounter broke out at around 8 am after the Special Operations Group of JK Police, Army’s 29-Rashtriya Rifles and Central Reserve Police Force launched a joint search operation on a specific input regarding presence of militants in Ranbirgarh-Panzinara area of Srinagar.

Police officials said that the encounter spot was close to Srinagar-Baramulla highway and militants were hiding in a residential house. However they came out after searches were started and the firefight took place in an open field.

“These two militants were planning an attack on the highway,” said Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar.

In the ensuing encounter, police said two militants were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. 

Police in a tweet identified one of the militants as Ishfaq Rashid Khan resident of Sozeith, Srinagar. “He was active since 2018 and wanted in many cases of  militancy,” police said.” The other slain militant is Ajaz Bhat from Pulwama district of south Kashmir.

Police took the bodies of the militants and buried them in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Some family members of the militants were allowed to participate in the funeral, police said. Of late, police have been denying the bodies of the militants to their families as their funerals attracted large crowds.

Police said that Ishfaq Rashid was the last surviving militant from Srinagar. “No Srinagar resident is now a militant after the killing of Ishfaq,” said Superintendent of Police, Cargo, Tahir Ashraf. “We gave them a chance for surrender but they didn’t.”

This was the third encounter in Srinagar city in the last two months. Earlier, in two encounters in Nawakadal and Zadibal areas five militants including the son of Hurriyat leader Ashraf Sehrai were killed.

Reports said that minor clashes between youths and security forces erupted in Sozeith soon after news about the killing of Ishfaq spread. They said protestors hurled stones on security forces.