Police identify four of five militants killed in twin south Kashmir gunfights

Two houses were damaged in the gunfight at Semthan Bijbehara in south Kashmir's Anantnag which ended with the killing of two local militants, Towseef Ahmad Bhat and Aamir Hussain Ganie. Mir Wasim/GK

Police on Sunday identified four of the five militants killed in twin gunfights with security forces in south Kashmir’s Anantnag and Shopian districts.

Police said the two militants killed in the Anantnag gunfight were involved in the killing of a Territorial Army soldier and a CRPF trooper.

The gunfight in Anantnag erupted last evening at Semthan area of Bijbehara where two militants were trapped inside a residential house even as a simultaneous firefight broke out at an orchard at Reban Bandpawa area of neighbouring Shopian district where police said three militants were holed up.

In the Anantnag gunfight, Police, 3RR Army & CRPF 90Bn took part while as police was joined by 34RR and 178Bn CRPF in Shopian, a police statement said.

Both the encounters ended this morning with police claiming killings of five militants, two in the Anantnag gunfight and three in the one in Shopian.

A police statement identified the two militants killed in the Anantnag gunfight as Towseef Ahmad Bhat, son of Mohammad Ramzan, a resident of Takia Maqbool Shah Bijbehara and Aamir Hussain Ganie, son of Abdul Rashid, a resident of Goriwan Bijbehara, Anantnag.

While Towseef was active since 2017, Aamir had joined militant ranks in the year 2018, police said.

Police blamed the duo for the killing of a local off-duty Territorial Army soldier, Mohammad Saleem Akhoon, who police said, was gunned down by them near his home in Goriwan Bijbehara on Friday.

As per the police statement, the slain duo was also involved in the attack on a CRPF party in Bijbehara last year in which a CRPF trooper was killed.

It said the duo was given “ample opportunities to surrender and face the law” before they were killed in the gunfight.

Two AK series rifles and other arms and ammunition were recovered from the slain duo’s possession, police said.

Their dead bodies have been sent for burial in presence of family members after medico legal formalities, it added.

In the gunfight in the Shopian orchard, the trapped militants too were asked to surrender, which they refused, the police statement said.

After a militant was killed in the initial exchange of fire, the police statement said the operation was suspended to give the trapped militants “another chance to surrender”.

It said the joint teams “exercised maximum restraint” and facilitated the presence of family members of one of the holed up militants, Faisal Gulzar to the encounter site so as to persuade him to surrender.

However, despite repeated appeals by his family members and assurances by the security forces, the other militant “didn’t allow him to surrender”.

In the subsequent firefight, both the militants were gunned down by the forces in the wee hours of Sunday morning, police said.

All the three bodies were recovered from the site of encounter. Besides Faisal, a second militant was identified by police as Aasif Ahmad Ganai-both residents of Chitragam Kalan.

The identity of the 3rd slain militant is being ascertained, police said adding the slain were affiliated with Al-Badr outfit.

It said that arms and ammunition including an AK-56 rifle, 2 pistols and “other incriminating materials were recovered from the site of encounter” which have been taken into case records for further investigation.

The last rites of the slain militants shall be performed at Handwara in north Kashmir after conducting medico-legal formalities, police said adding their nearest family members shall be allowed to participate in the last rites.

The police statement quoted IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar congratulating the joint team of police and security forces for “showing utmost patience and conducting operation in a professional manner”.

It also quoted Kumar appealing “all misguided youth who have joined terror ranks to shun the path of violence and return to mainstream as the society needs them and most importantly their parents”.

“He further said that we will welcome and accept them with open arms,” the statement added.