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7 militants including AGH chief killed in two encounters in Shopian, Pulwama

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Srinagar: Seven militants, including Ansar Ghazwatul Hind’s chief, were killed in two encounters in south Kashmir’s Shopian and Pulwama districts, police said on Friday.

Five militants have been killed in a Shopian operation, while two others were killed in the encounter at Nowbugh in Tral area of Pulwama district, a police official said.

Earlier, the Kashmir Zone Police had said that efforts were being made to get two militants hiding inside a mosque in Shopian after an overnight encounter to surrender.

“Brother of holed up terrorist and local imamsahab sent inside mosque to persuade the terrorists to come out and surrender. Efforts are on to save the mosque,” police had said in a tweet.

They had also tweeted about the Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGuH) chief being trapped inside the mosque. “Chief of proscribed terrorist outfit AGuH (JeM) trapped,” police had said.

The encounter in Jan Mohalla of Shopian district town broke out on Thursday evening and giving an update about the operation on the same day, police had said that three militants have been killed and four security forces personnel injured.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir Zone, Vijay Kumar told reporters that AGuH chief Imtiaz Shah, who was active since 2019, was actually killed in the gunbattle at Tral in Pulwama district.

“While laying a cordon in Shopian, two militants managed to escape after hurling a grenade,” Kumar said.

He said acting on inputs that the militants had moved towards orchards in the Tral area, another operation was launched in Nowbug and the two militants were killed. One of the slain militants was identified as Imtiaz Shah, Kumar said.

According to local news agency KNS, four other slain militants were identified as Muhammad Younis Khandey, a resident of Tral; Muzammil Tantray, and Basit Ahmed, both residents of Ramangri Shopian; and Adil Khandey, a resident of Kasipora Shopian.

The officer said “three people, who hurled stones on security forces when they were laying the cordon, suffered pellet injuries.”

The Army’s 15 Corps’ Commander, Lt Gen D P Pandey, said the security forces had conducted the Shopian operation with utmost restraint and respect for the place of worship where the two militants were hiding.

“It was ensured that there was no disrespect to the place of worship (the mosque),” he said.

“In Shopian encounter, the militants took shelter in Masjid and we allowed a local Moulvi to persuade militants to surrender twice in the night. Brother of a militant was also brought and his request for surrender was also turned down. We brought parents of militants in the morning, but militants refused to surrender,” IGP Kumar said during a presser at Police Control Room here.

He also said that maintaining sanctity of the Masjid, no explosives and grenades were used and the place of worship “suffered minimum damage”.

Lt Gen Pandey also said security forces gave ample opportunity to the militants to surrender.

“We want the misguided youth to comeback,” he said, but warned that “anyone who takes to arms against the state will be neutralised.”

On the orders asking the media not to cover live encounters and law and order situations, IGP Kumar said he had written to all senior superintendents of police, keeping in mind the safety of journalists and to ensure media coverage does not hamper operations. “I have directed the district SSPs concerned to brief the media after the operations are over,” he added.

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