2 associates, 2 army soldiers killed; several militants escape; clashes leave two civilians injured by bullets
Awneera (Shopian): Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Muhammed Yasin Itoo aka Mehmood Gaznavi was among three militants killed in a “major” counter-insurgency operation in Shopian’s Awneera village that began on Saturday afternoon. Two army soldiers were killed and three others wounded in the two-hour gun battle during which an estimated more than seven militants escaped. A one-storey residential house where the three slain militants were trapped was razed to the ground during the operation.
After the gunfight was over, clashes between civilians and government troops were reported from Zainpora, Awneera, Chermarag, Bapora areas of Shopian district. Fifteen persons were injured in these clashes, two of them with bullets and one with pellet injuries in the eyes. “One person had bullet injury in his abdomen, another had bullet injury on the upper part of his right leg, and one had pellet injuries in the eyes. These three were referred to Srinagar and the others were treated at the Zainpora primary health centre (PHC),” Abdul Ganni Raina, Block Medical Officer of Zainpora, said.
Government forces on Saturday afternoon had started the operation on “specific inputs of presence of a dozen of militants in Awneer village”. As the cordon was being laid, militants fired from residential houses and the majority of them gave the slip to government forces, except three who were trapped in one house.
The slain militants were identified as Irfan ul Haq from Maldair village of Shopian, Umar Majeed from Katpora Kulgam, and Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander Muhammed Yaseen Itoo aka Mehmood Gaznavi. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Shopian, SA Dinkar, confirmed the identities of the slain militants and the killing of two army soldiers.
An army official who was deployed at the encounter site said that there were more than ten militants present there, but only three were trapped and the rest escaped.
Police sources told Kashmir Reader that it was a “major operation”. They said that more than 200 vehicles of army, CRPF and police Special Operations Group (SOG) were deployed at the encounter site. Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Kashmir), SP Pani, was himself monitoring the encounter site.
When the DIG was briefing the media that the operation was over, several gun shots were fired by militants from a nearby area. The militants left soon after firing the gun shots.
Awneera village is about 20 kilometres from district headquarters Shopian. The village is considered the last village of Shopian district.
Meanwhile, massive clashes erupted in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Sunday after locals heard the news of death of Hizb commander Yaseen Iatoo.
Youth took to streets and threw stones on forces deployed in the area. The forces retaliated by firing teargas shells, triggering clashes.