Five militants, two civilians and two soldiers were killed in separate gunfights in south Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts on Thursday, police said.
A police official said that three Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants, an army soldier and a civilian were killed in a pre-dawn gunfight near Pulwama town. Two soldiers and a civilian were also wounded during the gun battle.
The police official identified slain militants as Naseer Ahmad Pandith of Karimabad, Pulwama, Umar Ahmad Mir of Barthipora, Shopian and Khalid, a JeM commander, of Pakistan. The deceased civilian was identified as Rayees Ahmad Dar. He had been putting up along with his family in Pulwama for past many years. His elder brother Muhammad Yunus, a businessman, also suffered fire arm injuries in the gun battle.
The police official said that a joint of team of Army’s 55 RR, SOG and CRPF personnel ring-fenced Dalipora, located near the town’s nerve centre Murran Chowk, following the information about the presence of militants in the area. “As soldiers initiated searches, militants hiding there opened fire on them. The fire was retaliated triggering a gunfight in which three militants were killed,” he said.
The official said that in the exchange of fire three soldiers and two civilian siblings also suffered injuries. One of the soldiers, sepoy Sandeep Kumar succumbed to his injuries at Army’s 92 base hospital in Badamibagh, Srinagar, while doctors pronounced a civilian “dead on arrival” at district hospital Pulwama.
A health official said that the slain civilian had suffered a fatal bullet wounds in his chest and neck while a bullet had pierced the leg of other one.
A local resident told Greater Kashmir that he was up for pre-dawn meals when the first bullet rang out at around 3.30 am. He said that the casualties probably took place in the open as he saw blood spilled over the lanes.
A police spokesman in a statement said that the killed militants were involved in a “series of attacks on security establishment and civilian atrocities.”
He said that “Pandith was involved in the killing of a policeman, Muhammad Yaqoob Shah, on the eve of Eid in 2018 and was also involved in some weapon snatching incident reported from the area.”
“Similarly, Khalid who was operating as commander of the proscribed JeM, was also involved in a series of attacks on security establishment and civilian atrocities in the area” he added.
The spokesperson added that Umar was also involved in several attacks and was part of the outfit responsible for attacks on security forces.
The bodies of two local slain militants were later handed over to their families.
The gun battle unleashed a fresh bout of clashes in both Pulwama and Shopian districts. In New colony and Dalipora areas of Pulwama, youth took to streets and threw stones on the forces who responded by firing smoke shells. As a precautionary measure, authorities imposed restrictions in and around the town and also snapped the mobile internet services.
Similarly, a group of youth pelted forces with stones at main market in Shopian town.
Meanwhile, thousands of mourners converged at the native villages of slain militants and participated in their last rites.
According to local residents, multiple funeral prayers were held for both the militants before they were laid to rest.
Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants, a soldier and a civilian were killed in a brief encounter at a village in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Thursday evening, a police official said.
He said that a joint team of Army, CRPF and SOG men surrounded the orchards of Handew village, some 12 kms from Shopian town, and launched a search operation at around 4: 30 pm following the inputs about the presence of militants in the area. “As the searches were on militants hiding in a thick apple orchard fired upon the security forces”, the official said, adding that the fire was retaliated triggering an encounter in which two militants and a civilian were killed while a soldier identified as sepoy Rohit sustained injuries.
The official identified the slain militants as Yawar Mushtaq son of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar of Thokerpora, Shopian and Shakeel Ahmad Dar son Abdul Gani Dar of Tukroo, Shopian.
The local residents identified the killed civilian as Ishtiyaq Ahmad Bhat son of Muhammad Dawood of Handew Shopian.