SRINAGAR: Two local militants owing allegiance to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Awantipora area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday. A teenage boy and a youth also died during the encounter.
Another Hizbul Mujahideen militant was killed in a separate gunfight in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district in the evening.
A police official said acting on specific information about presence of LeT militants in Padgampora area of Awantipora in South Kashmir, a search operation was jointly launched by police, army and paramilitary CRPF men this morning.
He said after plugging off all the possible escape routes, the troops zeroed-in on a residential house and asked the LeT militants present inside to surrender.
According to official, after security men ascertained that two local LeT militants Mohammad Shafi Wagay alias Ehsan and Jahangir Ahmad Ganie alias Safiullah were present inside, they asked the militants to surrender.
He said militants fired on the security men and as the gunfight ensued, one of the holed-up militant Jehangir attempt to escape by jumping out of a window. “However, he was engaged by security men and killed in a brief gunfight”.
He said after Jehangir’s killing, troops halted the assault to give militant a chance so surrender.
“The police officials through public address system asked Wagay to surrender and law down weapons. We also brought family members of Wagay to the encounter site and his wife and two children made several appeals to him through public address system to surrender and come out,” he said adding “The militant said he would prefer to die fighting rather than surrender”.
He said after the militant turned down surrender offers and fired on security men, troops launched an all out assault and killed him in the ensuing firefight.
The police official said 15-year-old boy Amir Nazir Wani was also killed after being hit by a stray bullet in the neck during the cross-firing.
However, locals rejected the police claim saying the security men fired bullets, pellets and tear gas shells on a group of people, who had taken to roads and were protesting near the encounter site.
They said Amir had sustained bullet injuries and died while being shifted to hospital. The locals said 20 people sustained injuries in forces firing. 11 were hit by bullet while 9 were hit by pellets, they said.
Some injured were referred to Srinagar hospitals for specialized treatment.
Another 22-year-old Jalal-ud-Din also died near the encounter site. Jalal was rushed to District Hospital Pulwama, where doctors declared him brought dead, the locals said. According to doctors, Jalal was brought dead to the hospital and had no external injuries.
Meanwhile, a brief encounter erupted between militants and security forces in Bandipora area in North Kashmir this evening.
A police official said acting on specific input about movement of militants, police and army men laid a naka outside police station Bandipora.
He said the security men set up a check point in the area, where vehicles were checked.
“A vehicle was stopped for checking and a militant travelling in it opened fire on the troops. The fire was returned by the troops and militant was killed in the brief gunfight,” the official said.
He said an Army Major was injured in the gunfight.
The slain militant was identified as Mushtaq Ahmad Shergojri, a local resident.
Mushtaq was associated with Hizbul Mujahideen and was active since last year, police said adding a pistol and grenade was recovered from possession of slain militant.
Meanwhile, the separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik in a joint statement have called for complete shutdown tomorrow against civilian killings in Pulwama. They also asked people to protest after Friday congregational prayers.