Mir Zeeshan

Four AGH militants killed in Shopian encounter

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Shopian, Jun 23: Four Ansar Ghazwut-ul-Hind (AGH) militants were killed in early morning gunfight with security forces in Panzar village of south Kashmir's Shoipan district Sunday, police said.

A police spokesperson said that following a credible tip off about the presence of militants in the Panzar Daramdora area, a cordon and search operation was launched by mixed column of security forces comprising of Army, CRPF and SOG of JK Police.

"As the search was underway, hiding militants fired upon forces who retaliated, leading to an encounter," said spokesperson.

In the gunfight, four militant bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter, spokesperson said.

He identified the slain militants as Showkat Ahmad Mir, son of Ghulam Ahmad Mir, resident of Chandpora Rajpora; Azad Ahmad Khanday, son of Abdul Rashid Khanday, resident of Bamnoo Rajpora; Suhail Ahmad Malik, son of Mohammad Yousuf, resident of Batmaran, and Rafee Hasaan Mir, son of Ghulam Hassan, resident of Kralchak Shopian.

The police spokesperson said that among the four slain militants, Showkat had a long history of involvement in militancy since 2015. He was initially part of proscribed Hizbul Mujahideen outfit and later switched over to AGH.

Showkat, as per police records, was wanted by law for his complicity in a series of militancy incidents including attack on security establishments and “civilian atrocities”, said the spokesperson, adding several cases were registered against him including cases pertaining to firing on a guard post at Sheikhard, lobbing of grenade on security forces, firing on civilians Bashir Ahmad Dar and Altaf Ahmad at Qasabyar in which Bashir Dar succumbed and Altaf was seriously injured, and killing of a policeman Sameer Ahmad.

Slain Showkat, according to police records, “was instrumental in the recruitment of Azad Ahmad, Rafi Hassan and Suhail Ahmad, who had recently joined the militant outfit," added the spokesperson.

He further said today’s encounter was “clean operation” and “no collateral damage happened during the encounter”.

Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition was recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other cases, he said adding that, people are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosives materials, if any.

The bodies of the slain militants were later handed over to their families after medico-legal formalities for last rites.

Police also said slain Showkat had joined Hizbul Mujahideen in July 2015 and switched over to AGH couple of months back while Azad had joined militant ranks in April this year. Suhail and Rafee had joined militant ranks couple of days back by announcing it through their gun-wielding photographs uploaded on social media sites, police said.

According to locals of Panzar, gunshots were heard since 6 am in the area and continued for few hours in the apple orchards of the village.

During the operation, minor stone pelting incidents were also reported near the gunfight site, with police retaliated to by firing tear smoke shells.

Witnesses said that thousands of people participated in multiple rounds of funerals of slain Showkat and Azad while chanting pro-Islam slogans.

In the wake of gunfight, mobile internet services were suspended in Shopian district while a complete shutdown was observed in Shopian town and other areas.

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