Aaqib Naik

Six militants, soldier killed in Shopian encounter

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Civilian killed, over a dozen others injured in clashes

Shopian, Nov 25: Six militants of Lashker-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen were killed in an encounter Sunday, along with a soldier and a civilian, in a village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

Police said based on a “credible input” about the presence of militants in Batagund area of Kapran in Shopian district, a cordon and search operation was launched during the preceding night jointly by the government forces in the area.

As the searches were going on, the militants fired upon the search party which retaliated, triggering an encounter.

In the initial bout of firing between the two sides, a soldier of Army’s 34 RR sustained injuries. He was evacuated to the hospital and is stated to be stable now, the police said.

“Another soldier identified as Nazir Ahmad of 34 RR, who was grievously injured in the final phase of the encounter, has succumbed,” the police added.

“It was an intelligence based operation in which six militants were killed. They were involved in gruesome killing of civilians and security forces,” Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Swayam Prakash Pani said after the encounter.

“We have been able to make a considerable dent in militant groups operating in the Valley,” Pani said.

Police identified the slain militants as Mushtaq Ahmad Mir alias Hammad alias Musha, son of Ghulam Hassan Mir of Cheki-Cholan Shopian; Mohammad Abass Bhatt, son of Abdul Jabbar Bhat of Cheki Mantribugh Shopian; Umar Majeed Ganaie alias Maaz alias Abu Hanzalla alias Abdul Rehman, son of Abdul Majeed Ganaie of Souch Kulgam; Mohammad Waseem Wagay alias Saifullah, son of Abdul Hameed Wagay of Amshipora; Khalid Farooq Malik alias Rafi alias Talha of Baghander Aliyalpora Shopian. It said from the material evidence collected, one militant – Kafeel – is learnt to be a foreigner from Pakistan.

Police also said it was a combined group of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

A police spokesman said, as per police records, Mushtaq Ahmad Mir alias Hammad was affiliated with LeT and was operating as district commander for Shopian, while Mohammad Abaas, Waseem Wagay, Umar Majeed Ganai and Khalid were with Hizb.

He said Mohammad Abass was known as district commander of Hizb for Shopian and Umar Majed was operating as district commander of Hizb for Kulgam.

All the slain militants were wanted for their complicity in a series of militancy incidents including attack on security establishments and civilian killings in the area, police spokesman said in a statement.

It said as per the police records, Mushtaq Ahmad Mir was a close associate of militant commander Zeenat-ul-Islam and was involved in several attacks on security establishments and “civilian killings”. He had figured in several cases, the statement said while sharing details of various FIRs registered against him including the one pertaining to the snatching of weapons from Court Complex Shopian.

Mohammad Abass Bhatt, the police statement said “was earlier convicted for a murder case and sentenced for five years.” After his release in April 2016, he joined the militant ranks and was involved in several militancy cases including the “recent spate of gruesome killings of civilians including the decapitating of 19-year-old Huzaif Ashraf,” police statement said.

It said he was also wanted for killing of young officer trainee Lt Omar Fayaz, advocate Imtiyaz Khan and four police personnel at Shopian in August this year and many other civilian killings in the area. The statement also gave details of various cases registered against him.

Umer Majid Ganai, the statement said had escaped from Batmaloo encounter, and his photo was recently circulated on social media showing his presence near clock tower Lal chowk.

“He was involved in Pombai bank guard attack case in which four policemen and two bank guards had lost their lives in 2017,” statement said.

Mohammad Waseem Wagay alias Saifullah was part of a “group involved in the killing of four police personnel in August this year at Shopian,” police statement said.

It said Khalid Farooq was also involved in several incidents and was part of groups responsible for killing of government forces and civilians in the area.

One Pakistani militant killed in today’s encounter was wanted in the “gruesome killing of civilians in the area including the throat-slitting video uploaded on social media,” police said.

It said police has registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter. Huge quantity of arms and ammunition including rifles were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and probe.

Pertinently, two days back, a module of six militants of Hizb and LeT was killed in Bijbehara in south Kashmir which, according to the police included one man who was wanted in assassination of journalist Sujaat Bukhari.

Meanwhile, intense clashes erupted near the encounter site today morning following the killing of six militants in a gunfight with the government forces, leaving one civilian dead and over a dozen others injured.

Fifteen persons injured in clashes with the government forces were brought to District Hospital Kulgam for treatment, said a doctor. He said six among the injured had bullet injuries while nine were hit by pellets.

He said that six among the injured – three each hit by bullets and pellets – were referred to Srinagar for specialised treatment.

Another doctor confirmed that a teenage boy Noman Ashraf Bhat of Baloosa Yaripora was declared on arrival at the facility.

Reports said that forces fired live ammunition, pellets and tear-gas to disperse protesters who were pelting them with stones.

Police spokesman once again urged the citizens to not venture inside the encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. “People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosives materials if any,” spokesman said.

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