SRINAGAR: Three Lashkar-e-Toiba militants including a commander were killed in an eight-hour long gunfight with security forces in volatile south Kashmir’s Pulwama district at Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, while a civilian died in security personnel’s firing on protestors during clashes after the end of the gunfight.
Army, meanwhile, foiled an infiltration bid along Line of Control (LoC) in Keran sector of North Kashmir by killing a militant.
A police officer said that acting on inputs about the presence of militants, a joint party of police, CRPF and Army launched a combing and search operation in Village Bank Mohalla, Kakapora in Pulwama district at around 7 pm yesterday to flush out the militants hiding there.
He said that after plugging off all the possible escape routes, the security personnel zeroed-in on a residential house, where the militants were hiding.
“After finding themselves trapped, militants fired on the search party. The fire was returned by the troops, triggering an encounter. In the ensuing eight-hour long gunfight, three Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed and an army Major injured,” the official said.
He said the injured Army Major was evacuated to the army hospital in Srinagar, where doctors have termed his condition as stable.
Sources said the house, from where the militants were firing on security forces, was damaged during the gunfight.
The slain militants were identified as Majid Hameed Mir, Shakir Ahmad Jugjoo and Irshad Ahmad Dar, all locals.
Security forces recovered two AK rifles and a pistol from the encounter site.
The police official said Mir was commander of Lashkar and close aide of LeT’s Kashmir chief Abu Dujana.
He said Mir, who was motivating the youth of south Kashmir to join militancy and fight against security forces, was involved in many militancy incidents and killing of political workers.
Police termed his killing as another jolt to Lashkar, which lost its top commander Junaid Matoo in an encounter with security forces last week.
After the encounter ended, locals of the area, especially the youth took to roads and staged massive protests.
Chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, the protestors pelted stones on the security personnel.
The cops retaliated by firing tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets to disperse protestors.
A youth identified as Tauseef Ahmad Wani received critical pellet injuries and was evacuated to hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead.
Over two dozen people also sustained injuries in the security forces action. The injured have been hospitalised
Police confirmed the killing of Tauseef in security forces firing on protestors.
“After the burial of militants, a violent mob attacked Police Post Kakapora. In order to save lives and government property, security forces used riot control measures in which Tauseef was killed,” a police spokesman said.
He said Tauseef was known in the area as Chota Geelani and was a chronic stone pelter.
“He was involved in 10 stone-pelting cases right from 2010 and was earlier booked two times under PSA,” the spokesman said.
The killing of Tauseef triggered protests in many places in south Kashmir, prompting authorities to suspend train services between Qazigund and Baramulla.
The authorities also imposed restrictions in some areas to maintain law and order and prevent people from staging protests and clashing with security personnel.
The separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik have called for protests after Friday prayers tomorrow against the civilian killing.
Meanwhile, the army said troops foiled an infiltration bid of militants in Keran sector of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district today.
“The alert army men foiled an infiltration bid of militants in Keran sector today. A militant was killed and an AK-47 rifle was recovered from his possession,” defence spokesman in Srinagar, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.
The troops are on high alert along the LoC to foil infiltration bids of militants.