Two militants die in Sopore gunfight

Two militants were killed on Thursday in a gun battle by government forces in Sopore town of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district which also left two soldiers wounded.

Acting on a specific information about the presence of militants in a locality a joint operation was launched by Army, Special Operation Group (SOG) of police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Nathipora area of Sopore in wee hours today. The militants who were hiding in a house hurled grenade on the armed force personnel in which two army personnel sustained injuries.

Later two militants were also killed in the retaliatory fire, who were identified as Basharat Ahmad Shiekh of Bomai, Sopore, and Aijjaz Ahmad Mir of Brath, Kalan, Sopore. After the operation concluded, Sopore town observed a complete shutdown while the bodies were handed over to the families for performance of last rights.  The two militants were behind the Wednesday’s grenade attack on police in which four of its personnel were injured.

The encounter comes as the situation in the Valley was already precarious after the killing of Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander and Burhan wani’s successor in a gunfight with security forces. Bhat along with another militant, Faizan, was killed in a gun-battle with security forces in the Saimoo area of Tral on Saturday.

Security forces have been increasingly facing backlash from the protesters and stone-pelters after such encounter operations. There is increasingly a trend of hero-worship after the death of prominent militants.

“The two militants were killed in a joint operation with 22 Rashtriya Rifles, 92, 177 and 179 battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF),” a police spokesman said.

He said that the militants threw a grenade and opened indiscriminate fire as the forces approached towards their hiding place, resulting into injuries to two army men.

The two militants who died in the gunfight belonged to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) militant outfit. As soon as the news spread people started marching towards their ancestral villages to take part in the last rites of the slain militants while the mobile phone communication, except of the state-run BSNL, was suspended after the gunfight.

 Police said the two militants were holed up in a house and the forces continued combing operations after the encounter was over. The encounter was reported within 24 hours after four cops were injured in a grenade explosion. Police said while probing the grenade attack they identified two persons and one was arrested. The arrested militant led the cops to the destination where the encounter took place. The police claimed that the slain militants were behind yesterday’s grenade attack on police station in Sopore and one of the grenade throwers was caught on a CCTV camera.

“After establishing his identity, the police reached to a house in Nathipore village where the two militants were hiding and the operation was launched at around 3.30 am,’’ said a senior police official.

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