Encounter in same Wani Mohalla where three LeT militants had survived a fierce gunfight in April
Kulgam: Hours after they allegedly abducted and killed a trainee police constable, three militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were killed by government forces in a gunfight that began early Sunday morning in Khodweni area of Kulgam district.
The slain militants include two locals of Kulgam, Suhail Ahmad Dar of Redwini Balaa and Mudassir Ahmad alias Rehaan of Katrasoo. The third is a Pakistani national, Abu Muawiya.
Both Suhail and Mudassir had joined militant ranks recently – less than three months back.
Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid said that the three militants had abducted and killed trainee police constable Muhammad Saleem Shah on Saturday.
“Three terrorists who tortured and killed our colleague have been killed in an encounter in Kulgam district,” Vaid said.
The gunfight took place in Wani Mohalla locality of Khodweni about a kilometre from Ghaat area, where Muhammad Saleem was found shot dead Saturday evening. He was abducted from his home in Motelhama village late Friday night.
The gunfight, as per police officials, began at about 5:30 AM minutes after a joint team of government forces entered Wani Mohalla.
This is the same locality from where 3 LeT militants had managed to come out alive after from a several hours long encounter, earlier in April this year. Suhail Ahmad Dar was one of those militants. He had joined the outfit hours before the encounter took place on April 11.
“A search operation was being carried out today when militants, hiding in a residential house, opened fire in a bid to escape,” a senior police officer told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the return fire limited the militants to the house and the exchange of fire continued for well over three hours, before the militants were gunned down.
“Weapons, along with the bodies of the militants, were retrieved,” the officer said.
Local sources said that the house in which militants were holed up was also set ablaze by government forces.
Meanwhile, clashes erupted around the site of the encounter following which dozens of tear smoke shells were fired to disperse stone-throwing youths.
“Pellets were also fired, inflicting minor injuries to some locals. They were treated locally,” local sources said.
Later in the day, bodies of the militants were handed over to their families following completion of medico-legal formalities.
“The Pakistani militant’s body was sent to an undisclosed location for burial,” the police officer said.
Thousands thronged to Redwini Baala and Katrasoo villages to attend funeral prayers that were held multiple times for the slain militants.
Armed militants also appeared at both the places and fired several rounds of gun salute. People raised pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans.
A local Fayaz Ahmad was injured during the funeral of the militant, Mudasir Ahmad when a rifle of a militant who was attending the funeral went off accidentally.
He was later rushed to a hospital in Srinagar.
Mobile internet services were snapped early Sunday morning, minutes after the encounter broke out, in Anantnag and Kulgam districts.
Train services on the Srinagar-Banihal track were also suspended for the day.