10 civilians hit by pellets, 4 troopers injured in Shopian encounter
Shopian: Seven militants including chief of Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGH) were killed in twin gunfights in south Kashmir on Friday while 10 civilians and four troopers were injured. A mosque in which militants were holed up in Shopian town also sustained partial damages.
The gunfight at Shopian broke out on Thursday night after government forces laid a siege to Jan-Mohala locality. In the initial round of firefight, three militants were killed while their two colleagues hiding in a mosque engaged the government forces till morning and refused to surrender. The duo was killed on Friday, ending the nocturnal gunfight.
According to locals, announcements on loudspeakers were made by the government forces appealing the hiding militants to “maintain the sanctity of the mosque” and come out of it.
The mosque sustained damages with its minaret and walls poked by bullets.
Police said that Imam of the mosque and brother of one of the militants were requested to persuade holed up militants to surrender but they refused to lay arms. “Keeping in view the sanctity of the mosque, the joint team exercised maximum restraint and didn’t use any kind of IED, heavy arms or other explosive substance,” police said.
In the morning, according to police, parents of holed up militants were sent inside the mosque to again persuade them to come out and surrender but they refused and instead started firing indiscriminately on forces. “The joint team keeping in view the sanctity of the mosque used smoke shells and fired tactfully without damaging the mosque as a result of which they were successful in eliminating two more militants taking the toll to five,” it added.
Amid a huge presence of forces including army, police and CRPF, clashes broke out around the encounter site till forces left the area. Witnesses said that stones were thrown on forces who retaliated with tear smoke shells, stunt grenades and pellets to disperse the crowd.
A health official told Kashmir Reader that 10 persons with pellet injuries were brought to district hospital among whom four were referred to SMHS Srinagar for advanced treatments. “The four people had sustained serious pellet injuries in their eyes due to which we sent them to SMHS for advanced treatment,” he said.
This was the first gunfight in the main town of Shopian since August 2019 when two militants were killed. Witnesses said that people assembled near the gunfight site after the withdrawal of forces. They said that protesters raised pro-freedom slogans and Pakistan flag.
According to police, 31 militants were killed in Kashmir this year so far. Of them, Shopian tops the list with 16 such killings including top Jaish commander Sajad Afghani. In the last 28 days alone, 13 militants were killed in the district.
Amid the Shopian gunfight, two more militants including AGH chief Imtiyaz Ahmad Shah were killed by government forces in an encounter at Naibugh area of Tral.
Police claimed that the duo had escaped during a cordon and search operation in Shopian and they were tracked by forces in Tral village.
A police source said that the encounter took place in an open space without any damage to the property. He said that both the militants were killed near the hideout.
According to police, Shah had signed up as a militant in August 2019 after the killing of AGH founder Zakir Musa.
The slain militants were identified by police as Basit Ismail Bakshi resident of Ramnagri village of Shopian, Muzaffar Ahmad Tantray also resident of Ramnagri Shopian, Adil Ahmad Lone resident of Khasipora Shopian, Younis Khaday resident of Ratsuna Tral of Pulwama and Kashif Ahmad Mir of Dadsara Tral and Zahid Ahmed Koka of Malhoora Shopian.