Hizb militant, army soldier killed in gunfight in Pulwama orchard

Anantnag: A local Hizbul Mujahideen militant and an army soldier were killed during a gunfight between government forces and militants here in Pulwama district.
Another army soldier, Sepoy Vikas, was wounded during the gunfight. “He was shot in the knee and is stable, being treated,” an army officer said.
The slain militant, as per police spokesperson, has been identified as Azad Ahmad alias Rehan of Lelhar village in Kakapora area of Pulwama district. “He was active since March this year and was affiliated with Hizb,” a police source said.
The Director General of Police (DGP) said that ‘Azad Lelhari’ was a Hizb commander wanted in as many as 6 cases.
“He was involved in the killing of police head constable Anoop Singh on May 22 this year in Prizu area of Pulwama,” Singh said. “Six FIRs are registered against him for militancy related killings.”
The DGP said that Azad earlier worked as an Over Ground Worker of the Hizb and had been detained under PSA.
The gunfight today took place in the wee hours in an orchard area of Kamrazipora area of Pulwama district.
A senior police official from the area said that an orchard area was surrounded sometime after midnight, following credible inputs regarding presence of militants there.
“At about 2:30 AM, the militants hiding in the orchard area opened indiscriminate fire,” the official said, adding that it was during this initial burst that two army men were wounded.
He said that the wounded army men were immediately evacuated to the hospital but one of them, Sepoy Julajit, succumbed to his injuries. “He had a bullet wound in his chest,” the official said.
The forces, police said, retaliated with gunfire and in the process one militant was killed. “There might have been others as well who managed to escape owing to darkness,” the police official said.
The body of the slain militant along with arms and ammunition has been retrieved from the site of the gunfight, he said.
Today’s gunfight was the first in the month of August even as the past few months have been the bloodiest in recent years. More than 135 militants have been killed since January this year in different gunfights with government forces, most of them locals.
The body of the slain militant was shifted for burial to Baramulla graveyard. “Keeping in view the prevailing pandemic due to COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of people from inherent risk of contracting the infection, the dead body of the killed militant shall be sent to Baramulla for his burial and last rites after completion of medico-legal formalities.
“The nearest family members of the killed militant were allowed to participate in the last rites at Baramulla,” it added.

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