SRINAGAR: Three militants belonging to Zakir Musa-led “Ghazwat-ul-Hind”, Kashmir cell of Al Qaeda, were killed in an encounter with security forces in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday while a civilian died in security forces firing on protestors during clashes near the encounter site.
A police official said acting on intelligence input about presence of 3-5 militants of Zakir Musa group hiding in a village, army, police and CRPF men laid siege around Gulabbagh village in Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district early this morning to flush out the militants hiding there.
He said as the security personnel were conducting house to house searches, they came under heavy volume of fire from the hiding militants.
The fire was returned by the troops and in the ensuing gunfight, three militants were killed, the official said.
Police sources said two militants managed to escape during the gunfight.
The slain militants were identified as Zahid Ahmad Bhat, Mohammad Ishaq Bhat and Mohammad Ashraf Dar.
Police said two AK 47 rifles and a pistol were recovered from the encounter site.
A police spokesman said the slain militants were locals and belonged to Zakir Musa group.
Zakir Musa, a former Hizbul Mujahideen commander, was recently named by Al Qaeda as head of its Kashmir cell named, “Ansar Ghazwatul Hind.”
Police said one of the slain militant Ishaq was involved in thrashing and torturing of some SPOs on gunpoint and circulated the same on social media.
Police sources said three militants were earlier associated with Hizbul Mujahideen but had later changed loyalties to Zakir Musa group.
According to them, the three militants were recently seen in pictures with Zakir Musa. The pictures were released by Zakir Musa group.
Meanwhile, youth of the area took to roads and clashed with security personnel near the encounter site.
The youth chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans wanted to march towards the encounter site. However, when they were intercepted by the security personnel, they pelted stones on them. The security personnel in retaliation fired pellets, tear smoke shells and resorted to heavy baton charge.
A 16-year-old youth identified as Mohammad Younis sustained critical pellet injuries in the security forces firing.
He was rushed to Srinagar hospital, where he succumbed to injuries.
As the news about Younis’s death reached his native place in Tral, people including men and women took to roads to protest against his killing.
Meanwhile, Hizb’s operational spokesperson Burhanuddin in an statement to news gathering agency in Srinagar said three militants killed in the encounter today were on way to rejoin the militant group after leaving Zakir Musa’s group.
He said the trio on way got killed in an encounter with forces.
“Ansar-Gazwatul Hind, headed by Zakir Musa, has been created to divide the Kashmiri nation. Hizb’s doors are open for the militants of Zakir Musa group,” he added.