Four militants, a civilian and a policeman were killed Friday during an early morning gunfight in Nowshera-Khiram village of Srigufwara in southern Kashmir, police said.
One of the four militants killed in the latest encounter was identified as Dawood Ahmad Sofi alias Dawood Salafi alias Burhan of Zainakoot in the outskirts of Srinagar.
According to a police statement Dawood was known to be initially affiliated with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideem militant group he had joined in 2016. The group, the statement said was active on social media and mostly attacked the policemen on duty at different places.
“The social media profiling and inputs indicate that they were inspired by ISIS module,” the police statement claimed.
A police official said, army’s 3 RR, special operation group of police and CRPF launched a joint operation around midnight after information about presence of militants in the village was received.
“In the morning as the forces zeroed in towards the house where the militants were hiding they came under heavy fire. During the initial exchange of fire a policeman, the house owner and his wife sustained bullet injuries,” said the police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The owner of the house, Mohammad Ashraf Rather was sent to district hospital in Anantnag and later sent to Srinagar. But he died on the way.
Rather’s wife, Rafiqa Bano was being treated in the bone and joint hospital in Srinagar.
The policeman later scumbed to injuries and was identified as Ashiq Husain of the counterinsurgency Special Operations Group.
Locals blamed government forces for killing Rather and injuring his wife, saying soldiers fired towards the house before the family members could come out.
The gunfight ended at around 1:00 pm with the killing of all the four militants.
Two soldiers were also wounded in the fierce firefight.
Police chief, S P Vaid told reporters that with the killing of the four militants on Friday the government forces have almost wiped out the cadres of Islamic State in the J&K.
Besides Dawood, the other three militants killed were identified as Majid Manzoor Dar of Talangam Pulwama , Aadil Rehman Bhat of Shettipora-Srigufwara and Mohd Ashraf Itoo of Hatigam Srigufwara-Bijbehara.
Clashes near the encounter site:
As the gunfight was on, people from neighbouring villages of Dachnipora belt of Bijbehara and Pahalgam tried to march towards the encounter site in a bid to help the trapped militants escape.
Government forces fired shotgun pellets and live rounds to push the protestors back triggering clashes that left at least 20 injured, six of them with bullets.
One of the injured youth, Umar Ahmad son of Shabir Ahmad was shifted to district hospital Anantnag in a critical condition.
“He has bullet injury in neck,” a doctor said.
Five others with bullet and pellet injuries were referred to Srinagar hospitals fort specialised treatment.
Later, protests and clashes spread to other areas including Pulwama, and Zainakoot area where Dawood’s family lives. Police sources said 30 more were injured in the area during clashes with police and paramilitary forces.
Thousands participated in the funeral procession of two militants Adil Rehman of Shetipora and Ashraf Itoo of Hatigam in Srigufawara area.
People were heard shouting pro-Islam, pro-Azadi , pro-militant and pro-Pakistan slogans.
Both Adil and Ashraf were engineering students before picking up arms early this year.
People in large numbers also participated in funeral of Majid of Telangam Pulwama.
Majid, a college student had joined Lashkar-e-Toiba last year but had later switched over to purported ISJK.