- Sources say two other militants escaped, another trooper injured; 4 houses completely damaged, others partially after government forces use heavy weaponry; an unidentified man reportedly arrested by army
Baramulla: A militant, Riyaz Ashraf Mir, of the Lashkar-e-Islami and a trooper of 32 RR were killed in a day-long gunfight in Ladoora village of Rafiabad in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Wednesday.
According to reports, army units from the 32 RR Watergam camp, SOG Sopore and other government forces launched a joint operation in the early hours on Wednesday in Ladoora—about 15 kilometers away from the main town of Baramulla—after receiving information about the presence of militants in the area.
As the government forces reached Ganie Mohalla, near the public health centre (PHC) Ladoora, the militants, who were sheltering inside a local person’s house, opened fire and the government forces retaliated, resulting in an encounter.
According to locals, the encounter continued till afternoon and the militants put up stiff resistance due to which the government forces could not cordon off the house where the militants were. They said the militants changed their positions from one house to another several times throughout the day and kept attacking the government forces.
Later, at around 4 pm, government forces reportedly set ablaze the house of a local where a militant had finally taken position. Eyewitness said the government forces used mortars and heavy machine guns as well as mines and gun powder during the fighting. Four houses, belonging to Abdul Hamid Ganie, Mohammad Maqbool Ganie, Habibullah Ganie and Gulam Ahmad Ganie were completely damaged while many other houses suffered partial damage due to the use of heavy weaponry by government forces. Later reports said that the fire services managed to save some other houses which were threatened by the blaze.
After a search, government forces recovered the body of one militant from the debris. They also recovered the body of one of their troopers while as another injured trooper was shifted to the army hospital for treatment.
SP Sopore Abdul Qayoom told reporters that after the encounter they recovered the body of a local militant, Riyaz Ahmad Mir alias Rouf of Brath-kalan Sopore, from the debris along with 3 AK-47 rifles. He said that Riyaz had joined militant ranks around six months ago and was associated with the Lashkar-e-Islami group.
Earlier, government forces had claimed that three militants, including Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandro and Mehrajudin Ahmad of Lashkar-e-Islami, were trapped in the cordon.
Meanwhile, the slain army trooper was identified as rifle man Sushare Mala of 32 RR while the injured trooper could not be identified. Sources said that there were three militants in the area, two of whom managed to break the cordon and escape.
Eyewitness said that at least one person — who could not be identified – was later arrested by the army and shifted to the army camp for interrogation. A local youth said that he had never seen this particular person in the village before and that he may have been the guest of a local person or even a pedestrian.
After the encounter ended, a large number of people from Ladoora and its adjourning areas reached the spot and began to survey the damage. Many people were seen weeping near the damaged houses.