Top militant comander escapes cordon in Shopian village

Top militant comander escapes cordon in Shopian village
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16 injured by pellets during clashes, owners of two houses detained by govt forces

SHOPIAN: A top Hizbul Mujahideen’s commander believed to be Zeenat-ul-Islam, broke yet another cordon along with his associates after an exchange of fire at Laddi village in Shopian district early in the morning on Sunday. Owners of two houses in the village were detained by government forces for questioning after the militants escaped.
Sixteen civilians sustained pellet injuries in street clashes which broke out after news of militants being trapped in Laddi village spread in the area. The government forces’ operation lasted for six hours after searches carried out in about a dozen houses. Witnesses told Kashmir Reader that a triple-tier cordon was laid around the village by a joint team of government forces.
Residents of Laddi village told Kashmir Reader that a contingent of government forces arrived in the village at the time of morning Fajr prayers. They said that the exchange of fire took place at about 6:20am, causing panic in the area.
Amid the exchange of gunshots, the militants managed to escape. Locals said that when the exchange of fire took place, there were no protesters at the site. The clashes started more than an hour after the exchange of gunfire, they said.
Laddi village is situated some 11 kilometres from district headquarters Shopian in the Imam Sahib area. It is surrounded by dense apple orchards and small mountain passes.
Zeenat-ul-Islam, according to police sources, has this year managed to break several cordons, like at Dragad, Turkwangam and Daramdour, even after exchange of gunfire. Zeenat was made Hizb’s operational commander for district Shopian after the killing of commander Saddam Padder.
Medical Superintendent of Sub District Hospital (SDH) Shopian, Dr Zahoor Ahmad, said that a total of 13 persons with pellet injuries were brought to the hospital. “We referred three persons with pellet injuries in their eyes to Srinagar hospitals. The rest were treated here,” he said.
Doctors at Primary Health Centre (PHC) Zainapora said that three injured persons were brought to the hospital, and two of them were referred to SMHS Srinagar for specialised treatment.
Later in the day, government forces restored to tear smoke shelling and aerial firing after they come under stone-pelting at Chitragam Kalan village. Eyewitnesses said that the clashes between local youths and government forces lasted for 10 minutes. Fortunately, no one on either side was injured.
Owners of two houses were detained by government forces during the withdrawal of troops from Laddi village. Their family members identified them as Muhammed Yousuf Wani and Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat. They said that the militants were suspected to be hiding in their houses.
The Senior Superintendent of Police Shopian did not respond to repeated calls and text messages from this reporter for his comments on the operation.