2 militants killed in DPS gunfight

Two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed while an Army Captain and two soldiers sustained injuries in a gunfight at Delhi Public School at Pantha Chowk here on Sunday.
2 militants killed in DPS gunfight
Photo: Aman Farooq /GK

Two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed while an Army Captain and two soldiers sustained injuries in a gunfight at Delhi Public School at Pantha Chowk here on Sunday.

The encounter broke out after a group of militants first attacked a Road Opening Party of Central Reserve Police at the entry gate of DPS at 6 pm on Saturday, leaving two of its personnel including an officer injured. The officer, identified as Sub-Inspector Sahib Shukhla of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, later succumbed to his injuries. The attack was sixth in a row since December 2015 on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

A source in police said after attacking the ROP, militants ran away towards the DPS and took refuge in one of its concrete buildings. "Within no time, Army, Police and CRPF cordoned off the entire school premises and its adjoining areas to ensure that the hiding militants don't flee," he said. "There was no contact between forces and militants till late evening (on Saturday). It was at 1 am that the militants fired a few shots, prompting the forces to take positions and to use illuminators to locate the positions of militants."

Another source said: "The militants fired intermittently at the forces during the night and the exchange of fire continued."

Residents of Pantha Chowk said they heard heavy exchange of firing at 3 pm (pre-dawn time). "We could hear intense exchange of firing for at least 20 minutes," said Nazir Ahmed of Pantha Chowk.

The source said forces used light mortars and grenades to kill the militants. A senior police officer, present on the spot, said militants had a plan to prolong the encounter on the pattern of one seen on February 23, 2016 when two heavily-armed militants first attacked a CRPF convoy and then took shelter in EDI building near Pampore on the highway. The encounter had lasted for 48 hours and ended with the killing of two militants, an army captain and a special para commando.

A police official said this time it was ensured that all three layers of cordon were very effective to ensure there is no law and order issue.

A witness said joint teams of police and the army were deployed at Sempora, Zewan Crossing, Lasjan bridge and Sonwar "to ensure that no militant breaks the cordon and that there is no law and order problem."

Talking to Greater Kashmir, Director General of Police S P Vaid said that two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed in the encounter and the school building suffered minimum damage. "Search operation is on in the area and traffic on the highway will soon be restored soon," he said.

The DGP Vaid identified the slain militants as Abu Talha and Abu Huraira. "Both are foreigners," he said.

Army's Srinagar based spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said, "The sanitisation operation is on."

In the encounter, an Army captain and a soldier, who were part of special para-troops, sustained splinter injuries when militants lobbed grenades at them.

Army said both the soldiers were admitted at 92-base hospital here where their condition was stated as stable. The injured soldiers were identified as Captain Bishu Deepak and NK Tusar of 2-PARA Special Forces. "Both the injured soldiers are stable," the official said.

A security official said combing operation was on and would continue for some time to ensure that no scattered or unexploded ammunition is left behind. "We are ensuring that the entire school premises is cleared off live ammunition as there should be no risk to students who will attend their school after Eid holidays," he said.

A source said many live grenades were diffused by the forces during the sanitisation operation.

The school is considered one of the elite private schools in Kashmir. Situated in the lap of huge mountain range, used for stone quarrying,  the school has at least three major buildings, comprising 400-500 rooms, a playfield spread over dozens of kanals of land, and a huge fleet of 150 busses. The mountain range connects Athwajan area of Srinagar with Khonmoh, Khrew and also with the Tral belt in south Kashmir's Pulwama district. 

Government had imposed strict curbs on the highway stretch from Ram Munshi Bagh to Sempora. The order in this regard was issued by the Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Farooq Lone.

A witness said no vehicle was allowed to ply on the stretch. "Forces had also sealed the road leading to Lasjan and Nowgam by placing rolls of concertina wires on it. No person was allowed to walk on the road stretch and it was a curfew-like situation," said Umar Rashid, a resident of Sempora. He said it was at 2 pm on Sunday, one-way traffic was restored while as vehicles coming from Sonwar were diverted towards Lasjan to take an alternate route to Pampore.

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