According to a police spokesman, five of them were killed in Shopian and two others were neutralized in the Tral area of Pulwama district.
The commander of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGuH) was among seven militants killed in two separate gunfights in twin districts of south Kashmir on Friday.
While five of them were killed in Shopian district, two others were neutralized in Tral area of Pulwama district, a police spokesman said.
The gunfights in Jan Mohalla area of main town in Shopian district also witnessed injuries to four soldiers who were wounded in the exchange of fire during the gunfight.
“In Shopian, at about 1545 hours, on a specific input generated by Shopian Police regarding presence of a group of (militants) in village Baba Mohalla, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by Police, 44RR and 14Bn CRPF,” the spokesman said, adding, “During the search operation, as the presence of (militants) in nearby mosque got ascertained, they were given ample opportunity to surrender and repeated appeals were made to them.”
Instead, the spokesman said, they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party, which was retaliated, leading to an encounter.
“In the initial firing, four Army personnel got minor injuries and were accordingly shifted to hospital for treatment. In the retaliatory firing, three (militants) were killed while attempting to break the cordon, however two militants kept firing on security forces.”
Meanwhile, the local Imam of the mosque and brother of one of militants were requested to persuade trapped AGuH militants to surrender but they refused, as per the security officials.
“Keeping in view the sanctity of mosque, the joint team (of government forces) exercised maximum restraint and didn’t use any kind of IED, heavy arms or other explosive substance. Even troops didn’t enter into the mosque,” police said, adding, “Security forces kept launching tear smoke shells inside the mosque. In view of this scenario, the operation was suspended for night hours, but the cordon remained intact in and around the encounter site.”
He said all possible efforts were made to persuade the holed-up militants to surrender besides repeated surrender appeals, parents of one of militant were requested to persuade but didn’t surrender. “The holed-up (militants) refused and sent them back,” police said.
Parents of militants were today morning sent inside the mosque, as per police sources, to convince them to come out and surrender. “They denied again and sent them back. Instead, they opened fire on the joint team of security forces, indiscriminately,” the sources added.
“The joint team, keeping in view the sanctity of mosque, used smoke shells and fired tactfully without damaging the mosque, as a result of which they were successful in eliminating two more (militants), taking the toll to five,” police sources maintained.
As per reports, the anti-militancy operation was monitored and supervised by IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar and GOC Victor Force Major General Rashim Bali who remained present on the spot.
The bodies of the all the five categorized slain militants were retrieved from the site of encounter. Among the five militants, four have been identified as Muzamil Manzoor, Adil Ahmad Lone, Basik Ismaiel Bakshi, all residents of Shopian district and Younis Ahmad Khanday of Tral area. The identification of remaining militant is being ascertained.
About the second gunfight in Tral area of Pulwama district, police sources said that during the Shopian gunfight, police learnt that while laying cordon, two (militants) managed to escape from Shopian encounter and the lead was further developed by Awantipora Police, helping in ultimately tracking them at an undisclosed hideout in Nowbugh area of Tral.
“The hiding militants were also given opportunity to surrender. However, they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter,” sources said.
In the ensuing gunfight, two militants were killed including AGuH commander Imtiyaz Ahmad Shah (resident of Ruthsuna Tral) and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. The other militant was identified as Zahid Ahmed Koka, resident of Malhoora Shopian.
As per police records, Imtiyaz Ahmad Shah was active since April 19, 2019 and was among A+ categorized militants. “He was involved in several militant crime cases including civilian killings, attacks on security forces and civilian atrocities besides he was also involved in motivating youth to join militant ranks. The militant handlers had assigned him the task to attack Army and Yatra convoy en-route Tral area,” the police spokesman claimed.
Similarly, the other slain militants were also involved in several cases including attack on security establishments, as per police records.
Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from both the encounter sites. “The group of slain militants was operating jointly and were affiliated with HM/AGuH/LeT,” police said.