Mir Zeeshan

Last militant of Burhan group among 3 killed in Shopian

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Over a dozen persons injured in clashes

As the encounter in Shopian ended, leaving three militants dead, hundreds rushed to the site of action. Photo/Muneeb Ul Islam

Pulwama, May 03: Lateef Dar alias 'Lateef Tiger', who was an associate of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, was killed along with two other militants in an encounter in poll-bound Shopian district Friday.  Some seventeen persons were also injured in clashes near the encounter site.

The encounter took place at the Adkhara village in Imam Sahib area of the south Kashmir district following a cordon and search operation there by the troops of 34 RR, CRPF, and police in the early hours of Friday, a police official said.

He said that after a brief exchange of fire, the cordon was strengthened to prevent the militants from escaping.

"Three militants have been killed in the operation," police spokesman said and identified the slain militants as Lateef Ahmad Dar alias Lateef Tiger, son of Ghulam Hassan Dar, resident of Dogripora Pulwama; Tariq Ahmad Sheikh, son of Shameem Ahmad Sheikh, resident of Moul Chitragam, and Shariq Ahmad Nengroo, son of Mohammad Yousuf Nengroo, resident of Chotigama.

He said Lateef Tiger had joined militancy in 2014. He had been arrested and was subsequently out on bail. He was supposed to appear before a district judge after completion of his bail but the accused failed to appear and later in October 2014, he was seen moving along side Hizbul Mujahideen militants.

The militant was accused of being involved in many killings, including that of Sarpanchs in south Kashmir.

After his killing, “the old guard of militants only include Riyaz Naikoo and Zakir Moosa," a police official said.

Lateef Tiger had been associated with Burhan Wani, the poster boy of Hizbul Mujahideen. He was the last surviving militant from the Burhan Wani's group who had posed in a photograph of 11 associates, police said.

After Wani's death in July 2016, he became a close aide of Naikoo, who is the ‘operational commander’ of Hizbul Mujahideen at present.

Police said Tariq Ahmad Sheikh alias Molvi had joined Hizbul Mujahideen on 30th March, 2018, while Shariq Ahmad had joined the group on 21st of March this year.

Incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. Police has registered a case. “All these incriminating materials have been taken in case records to probe their complicity in other crimes,” police said while urging the people to not venture inside encounter zone as 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 explosive materials if any,” police said in a statement.

Clashes also ensued near the encounter site after some people hurled stone at security forces engaged in the anti-militancy operation, police officials said.

They said two persons suffered “minor pellet injuries in the security forces' action to chase away the miscreants”.

But reports from the area said that 17 persons were injured in clashes with the security forces. Among the injured, three persons hit by pellets were referred to a hospital in Srinagar for specialised treatment.

One among the injured has suffered a bullet injury in his leg following which he was shifted to a nearby hospital for treatment, reports said.

The internet service was also suspended in the twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian soon after the gunfight broke out.

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