Police says 3 to 4 militants, including Musa, escaped from the site; pellets fired at protestors
Anantnag: Three local militants were killed while four, among them their leader Zakir Musa, managed to escape during a brief gunfight with government forces in Tral area on Wednesday. A civilian – a teenage boy – was killed by pellets that were fired by government troops at people who clashed with them near the encounter site after the gunfight was over.
Former Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa has formed his own outfit, Ansarul Ghazwat-ul-Hind, which is believed to be affiliated to Al-Qaeda. The militants belonging to his group who were killed in the gunfight have been identified as Zahid Bhat of Nowdal Tral, Mohammad Ishaq Bhat of Batagund Tral, and Mohammad Ashraf Dar of Trich Bagh locality in Pulwama. The gunfight took place in Gulab Bagh area of Tral.
Kashmir’s Inspector General of Police Munir Khan said that the killed militants belonged to Zakir Musa’s group. “Three militants have been killed during the
encounter. They belonged to the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. The encounter stands concluded,” Khan told Kashmir Reader.
As per police sources, four other militants, including Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Musa, managed to escape from the site. According to the police sources as well as the locals of the area, the militants were present on the banks of a rivulet in Woniboth locality of Tral when government forces raided the area.
“Soon after they spotted the men in uniform, the militants opened indiscriminate fire, taking positions along the bank of the rivulet,” a senior police officer posted in the area told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the fire was retaliated and three militants were gunned down in the initial bout of the gun battle.
“There were three to four more militants, who despite our best efforts managed to sneak out of the cordoned area. Searches were conducted for a while, before the operation was declared concluded,” the officer said.
He said that 2 AK-47 rifles and a pistol were recovered from the site of the encounter.
All the slain militants were of Category-C in police records. The records say that Zahid and Ishaq had been part of militant ranks since the latter part of the year 2015, while the third one, Ashraf Dar, had joined them in September last year.
Intense clashes between people of Tral and government forces took place near the site of the encounter soon after news of the gunfight spread. Clashes also broke out in many other parts of Pulwama district, including in main Tral town.
The authorities promptly blocked internet services as well as voice calling service on mobile phones in many parts of Pulwama district.
That, however, did not prevent people from reaching the site of the encounter. Government forces used tear smoke shells and pellets to disperse the protestors, injuring many in the process. Sixteen-year-old Muhammad Younis Sheikh, son of Abdul Khaliq Sheikh of Saimoh village in Tral, was hit with pellets from a very close range. “He was shifted to a nearby hospital and immediately referred to SMHS Hospital Srinagar,” a local source told Kashmir Reader.
Younis succumbed to his injuries at SMHS hospital. His body was taken back to Tral late in the evening.
Meanwhile, bodies of the slain militants were handed over to their families after medico-legal formalities by the police.
Thousands were arriving in the native villages of the slain militants at the time this report was being filed, despite blockades put up by government troops on roads leading to these places.
Mobile phones and internet services in Tral were still suspended when last reports came in.