4 militants killed in Shopian gunfight

Four Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind militants were killed in a fire fight with security forces at a village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district Sunday morning. Two among the slain were the new recruits, police said.

A police official told Greater Kashmir that a gunfight between the militants and the security forces broke out in the orchards of Panzer village, some 8 kms north-west of Shopian town.

Giving details, he said the gun battle started a few hours after a joint team of the Army, the SOG and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, laid a siege around the village and started a rigorous search operation at around half past 3 am.

He said the operation was started after the forces received a “definite” information about the presence of militants in the area.

“While the search operation was in progress, the militants hiding in a thick apple orchard fired on the forces”, said the official.

He said the fire was immediately returned leading to a gun battle.  “In the initial exchange of firing,” the official said, “two militants died.”

“There was a complete hush for some time which was pierced by another spell of intense firing resulting in the killing of two more militants,” he added.

The official identified the slain militants as Suhail Ahmad Bhat son of Mohammad YousufBhat of WanporaButmuran, Shopian, Rafi Hassan Mir son of Ghulam Hassan of Kralchek Keller Shopian, Showkat Ahmad Mir son of Ghulam Mohammad Mir of ChandporaPulwama and Azad Ahmad Khanday son of Abdul Rashid Khanday of BamnuPulwama.

The official said all the four militants were associated with the militant outfit AnsarGhazwat-ul-Hind.

Showkat, who joined militancy in June, 2015 had initially signed up for HizbulMujahideen, but later switched over to AnsarGhazwat-ul-Hind, the official said.

While Azad had joined militant ranks a few months ago, Suhail and Rafi had taken up arms merely three days ago.  “They (Suhail and Rafi) had vanished from their native places on June 15 and their photographs wearing combat fatigues and holding AK-47 rifles went viral on social media platforms on June 21,” the official said.

Suhail, according to local residents, had majored in Business Administration while Rafi had recently completed his masters.  Later in the day, a police spokesperson in a statement said that Showkat was wanted for his “complicity in a series of crimes including attacks on security establishment and civilian atrocities.”

He said that many cases were registered against him including that of lobbing of a grenade on security forces and attacks on civilians.

“He was instrumental in the recruitment of Azad Ahmad, Rafi Hassan and Suhail Ahmad who had recently joined the militant fold,” the spokesperson said.

CLASHES

A police official said that when the gunfight was in progress some young men neared the encounter site and tried to stymie the operation by hurling rocks on the forces.

The forces, he said, responded by firing tear smoke shells to scare away the stone-throwing youth.

Authorities also blocked the cellular internet services in the area as a preventive measure. .