Five militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen were killed in a gunfight in Devsar area of Kulgam district on Saturday.
A civilian from Anantnag town was also killed and at least 25 others were injured during a protest that was held by local residents at some distance from the site of the gunfight to distract the government forces and help the besieged militants escape.
The deceased militants are Gulzar Ahmad Padder alias Saif, a resident of Adijan, DH Pora, Kulgam; Faisal Ahmad Rather alias Dawood of Yamrach, Yaripora, Kulgam; Zahid Ahmad Mir alias Hashim of Okai, Kulgam; Zahoor Ahmad Lone alias Rehman Bhai of Nagnad, Noorabad, DH Pora and MasroorMolvi alias Abu Darda of Fatehpora, DialgamAnantnag.
At around 11pm last night, army’s 9 RR, police and CRPF laid a cordon around Chowgam village of Devsar near Qazigund following inputs about the presence of militants.
“As the forces zeroed in on a house near primary school Chogam, militants fired at them triggering a gunfight,” a police official said.
He said the gunfight started at around 12:30 midnight and ended 10am on Saturday. Forces also used mortar guns during the fight, he said.
The house where the militants were hiding was blown up using improvised explosive devices.
Paddar who had joined militancy in the year 2016 was, according to police, a close associate of Hizb commander AltafKachroo. The police said he was involved in a series of attacks including the killing of five policemen at Pombay last year besides two bank employees.
“He was also involved in the killing of an SPO at KrewanChidder in Kulgam. He was also involved in weapon snatching cases reported across Kulgam and many other bank robbery cases attempted in the area,” a police spokesperson said.
He said that Zahid was wanted for his involvement in the killing of policeman Fayaz Ahmad of Zainapora on the day of Eid while Faisal was involved in the killing of policeman Gowhar Ahmad in Shopian last year.
“Zahoor and Mansoor were involved in series of offences besides attempts at recruiting (youths into militancy) in the locality,” the spokesperson said, adding weapons were recovered from the encounter site.
CIVILIAN PROTESTER KILLED IN FIRING
Early morning, as the word spread that militants were trapped, local residents, braving heavy rains and restrictions, tried to march towards the encounter site in a bid to help the besieged militants escape.
But they were stopped by the forces before they could get close. The protesters pelted the forces with stones. The forces, in turn, lobbed tear gas canisters and later fired live ammunition into the protesters, injuring at least 25.
Three of the injured had bullet injuries and the rest had shotgun metal pellet injuries.
One of the critically injured youth, identified as Rouf Ahmad son of MuhamadSalimGanai, 22, of Al-Farooq Colony of Anchidora in Anantnag town, succumbed to injuries en route to Srinagar hospital.
“He (Rouf) had sustained bullet injury in throat,” a doctor at district hospital told Greater Kashmir.
Two others, one with bullet in the abdomen and other in the thigh, were referred to SKIMS and Bone and Joint Hospital respectively in Srinagar.
“We received around 22 injured in district hospital Anantnag, five of whom were shifted to Srinagar hospitals,” Anantnag chief medical officer DrFazil Ali Kochak said.
He said the majority of the injured were hit by pellets, while three had bullet wounds.
Two of the injured with pellet wounds were being treated at district hospital Kulgam and one at Emergency Hospital Qazigund.
A doctor at the SMHS Hospital said that nine persons with pellet injuries, some with injured eyes, were being treated there.
FUNERALS AND SHUTDOWN
A sea of mourners shouting pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan, pro-Islam and pro-militant slogans turned up at the funeral of four militants in Kulgam district and the funeral of another militant in Fatehpora-Dialgam village of Anantnag.
Militants also showed up at the funeral of some militants in Kulgam and offered gun salute to their deceased fellows.
Tens of hundreds of people attended the funeral of deceased civilian Rouf at Anchidora in Anantnag.
A complete shutdown was observed in Kulgam and Anantnag districts to mourn the killing of militants and a civilian. The authorities suspended internet services.
Rail service along Srinagar-Anantnag- Banihal route also remained suspended.