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3 LeT militants killed in Sopore encounter

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Srinagar: Three militants including a Pakistani were killed in an overnight encounter with security forces in the Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, police said on Monday.

Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh said all the three slain militants were top commanders of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit.

“The operation was very important for the police and other security forces as the militants were involved in several attacks and killings,” he added.

These include two major attacks in Sopore — one on March 29 in which two municipal councillors and a policeman were killed, and another on June 12 in which two policemen and an equal number of civilians were killed.

The encounter broke out late on Sunday night as the security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation following information about the presence of at least three militants, including the “most- wanted” militant Mudassir Pandit, in the area.

In the encounter, three militant commanders, who were active for a long time and were involved in several cases, were killed, Singh told reporters at a press conference here.

He identified one of the slain militants as Mudasir Pandit alias Umer alias Mass Bhai ( resident of Dangerpora Sopore) who was the LeT commander of the area since June 19.

“There are 18 FIRs against him and he was involved in the killing of nine security forces’ personnel, four civilians, two former militants, three sarpanches and two separatists,” the DGP said.

He said the other slain militants were a Pakistani national named Abdullah alias Asrar, who was working with Pandit for long, and Khursheed Ahmad Mir of Brath Kalan, Sopore, against whom there were six FIRs and who was involved in the killing of seven security forces’ personnel and five civilians, besides two grenade attacks.

“The group was also involved in two major attacks in Sopore — the first one on March 29 in which two municipal councillors and a policeman were killed and another on June 12 in which two policemen and two civilians were killed in the main market area,” the DGP said.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the slain militants were hiding in a house that belonged to the family of another militant.

“I urge the militant families not to give shelter to active militants. Then they blame the police for misbehaving with them…. The families of militants should refrain from providing food and shelter to active militants,” he said.

The IGP said there was a “huge support from the locals” in tracking the militants.

“We had circulated posters with the images of all three wanted militant commanders. The police tracked them down to their exact location, but the locals supported us. I thank the locals for the huge support,” he said.

General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Army’s Kilo Force Major General H S Sahi said a soldier was injured in the operation and he was evacuated to a hospital where his condition is stated to be stable.

He said this was the second such instance in the Valley in recent times where local militants were found to be accompanied by Pakistani militants.

“This is a big network nexus that exists, which is a cause of concern. This nexus needs to be broken and destroyed so that there is no hurdle in the peace and development of Jammu and Kashmir,” Maj. Gen. Sahi said.

He appealed to the civil society and the people of Kashmir to cooperate with the security forces to break this network.

“This network wants to continue the cycle of violence. We have been saying that this cycle of violence needs to be destroyed,” he said, adding that the support to this network should stop so that the lives of innocent Kashmiris are saved.

Maj. Gen. Sahi also appealed to the local militants to give up their arms and join the “national mainstream”.

“If they do not, then I assure you that they will meet the similar fate as that of the slain militants in the Sopore gunfight,” he said. (With PTI inputs)

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