Identity of the slain yet to be ascertained: police
Srinagar: A more than 30-hour gun battle between government forces and militants in Karan Nagar area of Srinagar ended on Tuesday with the killing of two militants.
The militants, whose identity is yet to be ascertained, were holed-up in an under-,construction five-storey building since Monday morning, after they were spotted before the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Battalion headquarters at Karan Nagar.
The gun battle had continued through the night as gunshots along with grenade sounds were audible from several kilometers away from the gunfight site.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Swayam Prakash Pani, said that the two militants killed belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). “Whatever materials we have recovered from the encounter site suggest that they (militants) are from LeT,” Pani told reporters in a joint press conference with IG CRPF Kashmir at Police Control Room Srinagar.
Government authorities on Monday had imposed restrictions in several areas of the old city fearing protests near the site of the gun battle. All roads leading towards Gole-Market Karan Nagar were sealed by government forces by installing barbed wires at the entry and exit points. No one was allowed to pass, even through narrow lanes, towards the encounter site.
People, espically patients and ambulances drivers, faced difficulties in reaching the SMHS hospital. They were diverted to longer routes by government forces deployed at the four-way near SMC office.
Journalists were also barred from covering the gun battle from close location. Forces were seen clearing the crowds that gathered at the four-way near SMC office.
Terming the Karan Nagar operation as clean and without collateral damage, Pani said that the militants were killed after a deliberate assault plan prepared by police’s Special Operation Group (SOG) and CRPF was executed.
The first militant was killed on Monday forenoon and the policemen deployed on the spot confirmed it. The pictures of his dead body lying on the veranda of the building where he was trapped went viral on social media.
The second militant was killed in the afternoon when the final assault was launched. CRPF troopers who were part of the operation displayed victory signs from windowpanes of their bullet-proof vehicles after killing the second militant.
As the operation was in a congested locality, Pani said, the government forces immediately vacated the entire area. “We thank the citizens of Srinagar city as they cooperated with us,” Pani said, adding, “Because of the help of the community we could take out the civilians from the encounter sight and subsequently the deliberate assault plan which was planned by CRPF and SOG jointly was launched.”
“CRPF personnel achieved martyrdom during the initial exchange of fire and a police constable was injured,” Pani said. “The police constable is admitted in SMHS hospital and his condition is stable.”
Inspector General of CRPF Srinagar, Ravideep Sahi, told reporters that that the two bodies of the militants along with arms and ammunition have been recovered from the encounter site. “Two AK-47 assault rifles and eight magazines were recovered from the site,” Sahi said.
Providing the details of the encounter, Sahi said that government forces rescued five CRPF personnel’s families along with a few civilians. “Once the sanitisation (process) of the area was done, the operation was launched,” he added.
Sahi said that an alert guard belonging to 23 battalion of CRPF challenged militants when he noticed suspicious movement in the wee hours of Monday.
Answering the question whether there are reports of more militants present in Srinagar or inputs of more attacks, Sahi replied that government forces were on alert. Sahi did not answer the question whether there were any previous inputs related to this attack.
When asked whether the militants were non-locals or locals, Pani said that he cannot answer the question unless the militants’ identity was ascertained.
Police earlier had issued an advisory to people asking them not to venture near the encounter site. SSP Srinagar Imtiaz Ismail Parray said that since there was the possibility of live shells in and around the gunfight site, people are advised not to venture near the encounter site till the area is completely sanitised. “The area is not clear yet and it needs proper sanitisation,” he said.