SRINAGAR: The south Kashmir, which was epicenter of last year’s turmoil and emerging as stronghold of militants, witnessed three militant attacks, 12 killings, three bank robberies and couple of failed security operations in a week.
A wanted militant of Lashkar-e-Toiba, a policeman and three civilians were killed in a brief encounter between militants and cops at Mir Bazar in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Saturday evening. The encounter took place after militants attacked a police party, which had gone to area to investigate the traffic accident.
The slain LeT militant was identified as Fayaz Ahmed Ashwar alias Setha. He, according to police, was active from last two years and was involved in many subversive activities.
“The militant was wanted by NIA for his role in a Fidayeen attack on a BSF convoy on August 2015 at Udhampur in which two BSF men were killed and 11 others injured,” a police spokesman said.
Hundreds of people attended funeral prayers of the slain militant today amidst chanting of pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. Some militants were also present at his funeral and they gave “gun salute” to him firing several rounds in air.
It was the third militant attack in South Kashmir within a week.
Earlier, militants had attacked a sumo ferrying army men near Imam Sahib area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district on May 4. In the militant attack, the civilian sumo driver was killed and two soldiers including a Major injured.
The attack took place after the soldiers were returning from day-long search operation in Shopian district.
4000 soldiers including army, police and paramilitary personnel launched one of the biggest combing operation of decade in over two dozen villages in Shopian district on May 4 to track the militants hiding there. The helicopters and drones were used to help soldiers in locating militant positions.
However, the operation was called off after 8-hours after security forces found no militant in the besieged area.
On the same evening (May 4), security forces launched a combing operation in Khudwani area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district after receiving inputs about presence of two Lashkar militants. However, as the security personnel were laying siege around the area, the local population took to roads, staged protests and pelted stones and bricks on the security personnel.
After protests and clashes from locals, security forces called off the operation without confronting the militants.
On May 1, a group of Hizbul Mujahideen militants attacked J&K bank cash van at Pombai area of Kulgam district. The militant attack left five policemen and two bank guards dead.
It was one of the deadliest attack targeting police and bank guards.
The attack was followed by three bank robberies on May 2 and 3.
On May 2, militants looted Rs 65,000 from Ellaquai Dehati Bank at Kader village near Kulgam in Kulgam district.
On May 3, militants struck twice in two hours in Pulwama district and looted over Rs 6.3 lakhs from Ellaquai Dehati Bank and J&K Bank.
After the bank robberies, the banks on directions of security agencies have stopped disbursing cash in at least 40 branches in south Kashmir.
A police official said security agencies are mulling conducting frequent crackdowns and search operations in south Kashmir to dislodge the militants from their basis.
“The recent 8-hour-long massive search operation was beginning of such operation. It was not the failed operation. Through this operation we achieved what we wanted. The operations will continue till militants are dislodged from their basis and killed,” he said.