6 militants, soldier, civilian killed in Kashmir gunfights

Eight persons, including six militants, were killed in two separate gunfights in south Kashmir on Thursday, police and army officials said.

In Pulwama district, security forces gunned down three militants belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). A soldier and a civilian were also killed in the encounter, police said. “As the security forces were evacuating civilians from the neighbourhood area around the target(ed) house, the terrorists [hiding there] fired indiscriminately. In the process one Army Jawan, Sepoy Sandeep, attained martyrdom and one civilian Rayees Dar also lost his life,” said police spokesman Manoj Kumar.

The slain militants have been identified as Naseer Pandith from Kareemabad in Pulwama, Umar Mir of Shopian and Khalid from Pakistan, Kumar said.

The encounter triggered clashes between members of the public and security forces, prompting the authorities to impose a curfew. The forces fired tear gas shells and pellets to disperse the protesters, many of whom pelted the security personnel with stones. Mobile internet services were suspended in the district as well.

The gunfight started in the morning after a cordon and search operation was launched by police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and army at Dalipora area in Pulwama after intelligence inputs about presence of militants in a house.

An official from Pulwama police station said that Rayees Dar and his brother Younis Jalal Dar were asked to accompany the forces to “show the way” when they were hit by bullets. “While Rayees died, Younis sustained injuries in his leg,” he said.

The security forces retaliated and killed the three militants holed up in the house.

According to the police records, the slain militants were affiliated to Pakistan-based JeM that owned up the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 CRPF troopers lost their lives.

“They [the militants] were wanted by law for their complicity in a series of terror crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities. Several terror crime cases were registered against them,” Kumar said.

“Naseer Pandith was involved in the killing of a policeman Mohammad Yaqoob Shah of Pulwama in 2018 on the eve of Eid. He was also involved in some weapon snatching incidents reported from the area besides several cases were registered against him for his criminal activities,” Kumar added.

Khalid, a commander of JeM, and Umar Mir were also involved in several terror attacks, the official said.

In Shopian, the security forces were fired upon by militants holed up in a house, during a search operation at Handew area in the evening.

“In the ensuing encounter, 3 terrorists were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. The identities and affiliations of the killed terrorists are being ascertained,” Kumar said later in the evening.

The security forces have particularly targeted JeM after the Pulwama attack on February 14. Since then, 52 militants have been gunned down with more than half of them belonging to the JeM.

Meanwhile, separatists under the banner of Joint Resistance Leaders (JRL) issued a statement, calling for a complete shutdown in the Valley on Friday in protest against the killing of an innocent civilian “at the hands of Indian occupation forces even during the ongoing holy month of Ramadan”.

They also appealed to the youth to maintain peace and discipline while leading the protest march after Friday prayers in various places in the state.

First Published:
May 16, 2019 23:50 IST

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