LeT commander among 2 killed in Pulwama encounter; youth dies in clashes

Protesters from the village and adjacent areas gathered in large numbers pelting stones at the security forces and shouting pro-Islam slogans.
Shah made an attempt to flee the area but could not penetrate the cordon which had been strengthened by the presence of CRPF and Army (File | PTI)
Shah made an attempt to flee the area but could not penetrate the cordon which had been strengthened by the presence of CRPF and Army (File | PTI)

SRINAGAR: A top Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander and his associate were killed in a gunfight with security forces in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday while a youth died in security personnel’s firing on protestors during clashes near the encounter site after the end of encounter.

In a separate incident, militants attacked a police vehicle in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district in the evening killing a policeman and injuring two others.

IGP Kashmir Muneer Khan told reporters in Srinagar that  a joint team of Police, Army’s Rashtria Rifles and paramilitary CRPF men cordoned off Litter village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama after receiving inputs about presence of LeT militants there.

It was the first counter militancy operation in Litter area of Pulwama in four years.

Khan said after plugging off all possible routes, security personnel zeroed in on a house, where the militants were hiding.

“The militants were asked to surrender but they turned down the offer and fired on the search party, which was retaliated. In the ensuing gunfight, two LeT militants including a top commander were killed,” the IGP said.

The slain militants were identified as LeT’s district commander, Waseem Ahmad Shah alias Abu Usama Bhai R/o of Heff Shirmal, Shopian and his associate Nisar Ahmad Mir R/o Pulwam.

IGP termed killing of Waseem as a major achievement for security forces and severe jolt to Lashkar.

“Waseem was one of the notorious militants operating in South Kashmir. He had joined militant ranks in March 2014 and used to recruit new cadres into LeT,” he said.

According to IGP, Waseem was involved in many attacks on security forces and at least seven FIRs stand registered against him.

He was one of the most wanted militant and carried a reward of Rs 10 lakhs

Waseem figured in the list of 12 most wanted militants issued by army in June this year.  Of the 12, seven have been killed in security force operations in last three months.

The IGP said another militant killed in gunfight Nisar had joined militancy early this year.

After the gunfight ended, the locals especially youth took to roads and staged protest demonstration. Chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, they clashed with the security personnel by pelting stones on them. The cops fired tear smoke shells, pellets and live ammunition on the mob causing injuries to five protestors.

Later, one of the injured identified as 30-year-old Gulzar Ahmad Mir succumbed to injuries in a Srinagar hospital. Another person with firearm injury is undergoing treatment in Srinagar hospital.

After the civilian was killed in clashes, authorities suspended mobile internet services in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

A police spokesman while confirming killing of civilian said he lost life in cross firing.

Meanwhile, militants in the evening attacked a police vehicle at Damhal Hanjipora in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

A police spokesman said the policemen were returning to Kulgam after dropping PDP MLA Abdul Majid Padder at his residence in Noorabal in Damhal Hanjipora when militants attacked their vehicle at Nadimarg morh in Kulgam in the evening.

He said a police driver identified as Khurshid Ahmad was killed and two other policemen injured in the militant attack.

After the militant attack, police and army men laid siege around the area to nab the attackers. However, no arrests were reported.

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