Three militants escape cordon in Dialgam Anantnag; clashes around encounter site in Pulwama where militant ‘directly involved’ in soldier Aurgangzeb’s killing slain
Anantnag/Baramulla: Four Kashmiri militants, three from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district and one from Sopore in north Kashmir, were killed in two separate gunfights with government forces on Saturday, taking the number of militants slain this week to nine.
While three militants affiliated with the Hizbul Mujahideen were killed in south Kashmir early morning, a lone militant who was chased by government forces was killed in north Kashmir’s Sopore in the afternoon.
In Pulwama’s Panzgan in the middle of the night, hours before the pre-dawn Sehri meal of Ramadan, government forces arrived and laid a cordon around the village. During searches, an exchange of fire broke out after a militant indiscriminately fired to break the cordon, but in vain. The fleeing militant was killed in the first hour of the shootout, said a police officer, requesting anonymity because he wasn’t authorised to talk to the media.
He said that the other two trapped militants and government forces exchanged fire for a few hours before the guns fell silent from the militants’ side.
“After the gunfire ceased, we started to comb the area. But then the two hiding militants opened fire, one after the other. They were eliminated in the retaliatory firing,” he said.
After verification, the killed militants were identified as Showkat Ahmad Dar of Panzgam in Awantipora; Irfan Ahmad War of Wadoora in Sopore; and Muzaffar Ahmad Sheikh of Tahab village in Pulwama district.
Dar, who returned to militancy for a second time in 2016, was part of the group of militants that abducted and killed army soldier Aurangzeb on June 14, 2018, the police said in a press handout.
“He was directly involved in the killing of Aurangzeb,” a senior police officer told Kashmir Reader. “He was also part of the group that killed policeman Aqib Ahmad Wagay. Showkat had several cases registered against him,” he added.
Aurangzeb was on his way home in Poonch when he was abducted from Pulwama district and killed by militants.
The other two slain militants, a police official said, were also involved in attacks on civilians as well as on government forces’ installations.
Local sources told Kashmir Reader that at least three residential houses suffered damages during the gunfight.
The gunfight was concluded by noon and the bodies along with weapons were retrieved from the site. Clashes erupted around the site of the gunfight as forces used tear smoke shells and pellets to disperse the protesting locals.
“Many people were injured during the clashes but most of them were treated locally,” a local source said.
Later in the day, the bodies of the militants were handed over to the next of kin after medico-legal formalities. Thousands of people reached Panzgam village and attended several rounds of funeral prayers held for Dar.
In Tahab area, clashes erupted as Muzaffar’s body reached home. A funeral was yet to be held till last reports came in from the area.
Mobile internet services were suspended in Anantnag, Pulwama and Awantipora police districts in the wee hours of Saturday and were yet to be restored when this report was filed. Train services on the Banihal-Srinagar track were also snapped for the entire day.
In neighbouring Anantnag district, a cordon and search operation (CASO) in Dehruna village in Dialgam was concluded after militants, believed to be three in number, escaped.
“We came into contact initially and fire was exchanged briefly as well. But then they managed to escape. The cordon was lifted after thorough searches in the area,” a senior police officer said.
In north Kashmir’s Hathlango village in Sopore, a militant was killed in a brief gunfight with government forces.
An official said that a CASO was launched by army’s 22 RR, SOG of Jammu and Kashmir police, and paramilitary CRPF in Hathlango village after specific information of presence of militants in the area.
They said that forces closed all the entry and exit points of the suspected area and fired warning shots towards a suspected spot, to which there was no response. In the afternoon, they said, one militant tried to break the cordon, resulting in a gunfight during which the militant was killed.
The police spokesperson identified the slain militant as Waseem Ahmad Naik, son of Abdul Gani Naik of Udipora Barsoo Awantipora. The slain had deserted his home in March this year to sign up as a militant.
On Saturday morning, the authorities suspended mobile internet services in Sopore.
With inputs from Baramulla