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6 more militants killed in two south Kashmir encounters; toll mounts to 8

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A post-encounter view of the Pampore mosque where militants, killed today, were hiding. Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar: Six more militants were killed in two separate encounters with security forces in Pulwama and Shopian districts of south Kashmir on Friday, taking the number of militants killed in the overnight operations to eight, officials said.

While two militants were killed in the Pulwama encounter, four were killed in Shopian operation on Friday. The militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba, they said.

Security forces launched a cordon and search operation at Meej in Pampore area of Pulwama, in south Kashmir, on Thursday morning after receiving specific information about the presence of militants there, a police official said.

He said the search operation turned into an encounter after militants fired upon a search party of the forces.

One militant was killed in the gunfight on Thursday, but two more had entered a nearby mosque to take refuge inside it, the official said.

He said the cordon around the mosque was maintained throughout the night.

“On Friday morning, security forces used tear smoke shells to force the holed up militants out of the mosque,” the officials said, “adding the two were killed by the forces while maintaining the sanctity of the religious place.”

In total, three militants were killed in the operation.

Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said no firing or IED was used to force the militants out of the mosque.

“Patience and professionalism worked. No use of firing and IED. Used tear smoke shells only. Maintained sanctity of the mosque. Both terrorists hiding inside mosque neutralised,” the IGP said.

In another anti-militancy operation in Munand-Bandpava area of Shopian, which also began on Thursday, four more militants were killed on Friday morning, defence spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia said.

The forces had launched an operation there following intelligence inputs about the presence of militants there.

While one militant was killed in the operation there on Thursday, four more were gunned down on Friday, Col Kalia said, taking the number of militants killed in the encounter to five.

In total, eight militants were killed in these two overnight operations in the last 24 hours.

The bodies have been sent to Baramulla for conducting medico-legal formalities, including DNA collection, followed by last rites, a police spokesperson said, adding if any kin claims the bodies, they can come forward for identification and participation in last rites.

“Incriminating material including arms and ammunition were seized from both the encounter sites. Cases under relevant sections of the law have already been registered and further investigation has been initiated,” the spokesperson said.

Director-General of Police Dilbag Singh said the militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba.

“Eight of them, who were a threat to the civil society day in and day out… have met their end, which of course does not bring happiness, but is a step forward to further stabilising peace in this region which has been troubled for very long,” he said at a joint press conference with the Army and CRPF.

The police chief complimented the security forces for the operations in a “professional manner”, especially in view of the militants taking refuge inside a mosque during the encounter at Meej Pampore.

“It is to the credit of the field commanders and the members of forces working on the ground, who despite provocations are always ready to exercise as much restraint as possible,” Singh said.

“I compliment the team for this beautiful execution of the operation without any loss and I express my happiness in peoples’ satisfaction after the operation,” he said.

Asked about his earlier statement that militancy would be wiped from south Kashmir in a month, IGP, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said, “If you remember, I had said next month and few days are still there till the next month.”

“Let us first clean the south. We are developing the inputs in the north (Kashmir) and will start taking action there afterwards,” he said.

“We have information about militants’ plans for two more IED attacks… A Pakistani Jaish commander Adnan and another Waleed Bhai in Kulgam are there. We will neutralise both of them before they set off any IEDs,” the IGP said. (With PTI inputs)

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