SRINAGAR: A soldier and six militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen, including top commanders of both outfits, were killed in a fierce gunfight in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday. A civilian, who was among a group of locals who threw stones at security forces during the encounter, was also killed. Over three dozen others sustained injuries.
On receiving intelligence inputs about the presence of militants at Batagund in Kapran, the police, CRPF and army men conducted searches on Saturday night. During the operation, they came under fire from militants hiding in residential buildings there, triggering an encounter. The gunfight went on till morning. “An army jawan, Naik Nazir Ahmad, of 34 RR was grievously injured.
He was evacuated to the military hospital, where he succumbed to injuries,” a security officer said, adding that Ahmad was a highly decorated soldier who was awarded the Sena Medal twice. The deceased militants were identified as Mushtaq Ahmad Mir alias Hammad alias Musha, of Shopian, Mohammad Abass Bhatt, R/o Shopian, Umar Majeed Ganaie alias Maaz alias Abu Hanzalla alias Abdul Rehman, R/o Kulgam, Mohammad Waseem Wagay alias Saifullah, R/o Amshipora, and Khalid Farooq Malik alias Rafi alias Talha, R/o Shopian.
While Mushtaq alias Hammad was the LeT’s district commander for Shopian, Abaas and Umar were the Hizb’s district commanders of Shopian and Kulgam respectively, a police official said. One of the deceased militants was a Pakistani who was involved in slitting the throat of a civilian in Shopian last week. Hizb had claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the victim was an “army informer”. The deceased civilian was identified as Nouman Ashraf Bhat. He was shot in the head and succumbed to injuries in a hospital.