Anantnag/Shopian: Two unidentified militants were killed in two separate encounters in south Kashmir’s Awantipora and Shopian districts on Thursday.
A gunfight between militants and government forces erupted in Meej village of Pampore area of police district Awantipora at about 1:30 am Wednesday night.
A police official said that the operation was launched following specific inputs regarding presence of militants in the area. “The operation was launched at about midnight and by 1:00 AM the house, where militants were holed up, was identified,”
He said that the militants were asked to surrender but they chose to open fire instead, which was retaliated, triggering a gunfight.
“The fire was intermittent from their side and by morning the militants tried to break the cordon. One of the militants was gunned down during the attempt,” the official said.
The other two militants managed to take refuge in a nearby mosque. Since, there has been a deadlock in the area with cordon intact but only occasional fires from both the sides, the local sources told Kashmir Reader.
A police source and an army officer confirmed that the militants were holed up in a mosque.
“The situation is being handled with extreme caution for any damage to the mosque stricture might fuel public anger,” a police source told Kashmir Reader.
The authorities, meanwhile, snapped mobile internet services as well as voice calling on mobiles in Awantipora police district soon after the first shots were fired. The services remained barred while this report was being filed.
In Shopian, an unidentified militant has been killed in an ongoing encounter with government forces at Bandpow village in Zainpora belt of south Kashmir’s Shopian district. The encounter broke out in dense apple orchards situated some 500 meters away from residential area.
Locals said that exchange of gunfire took place within five minutes of government forces reaching the spot. They said that more than a hundred villagers were working in orchards, spraying fungicides or cutting fodder for animals, when the gunfight erupted. They said that the villagers were safe but many were stuck in the orchards due to the encounter going on.
Police in a statement said that one militant was killed in an ongoing firefight and that the slain militant had not been identified yet.
Since June 7, that is the last 11 days, 18 militants have been killed in Shopian now in five separate encounters.
Today’s encounter is the third in succession which has taken place in an open area away from residential houses.
After the initial exchange of fire, scores of youth hit the streets and hurled stones on government forces who retaliated with tear smoke shells and stun grenades to disperse them. There were no reports of any injury on either side.
Police sources said that a cordon and search operation was launched by a joint team of government forces including 44 Rashtriya Rifles of army, Jammu and Kashmir Police, and central reserve police force on inputs about presence of five militants in the area.
Locals in Chitragam and Bandpow said that government forces had been conducting searches and patrols in the orchards since a month, even during night.
According to a police source, 30 militants have been killed in Shopian since August 5 last year in nine encounters, including today’s. Among the 30, 18 were killed this month.
(With inputs from Raashid Hassan)