Anantnag: The oldest militant in Kashmir, and apparently the last surviving local Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militant in police district Awantipora, was killed Wednesday afternoon in a gunfight with government forces here in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Shameem Ahmad Sofi alias Sham Sofi, a resident of Satoora village in Tral, was aged 54 and the oldest militant active in Kashmir. “He worked as a contractor before he took up arms some two years ago,” a police source told Kashmir Reader.
He was the last surviving local JeM militant from police district Awantipora, the police source said.
Sham is survived by four children, one of them a daughter, and his wife. “Two of his sons have BTech degrees. Another son is in the first year of college and his daughter is in Class 12th,” a family source told Kashmir Reader. Sofi’s eldest son is 26 years old, the family source said.
In August this year, a 49-year-old militant Abdul Hamid Chopan, also a resident of Tral, was killed in a gunfight, some four years after his militant son Adil Hamid was killed by government forces.
The gunfight today took place in Wagad area of Tral in Awantipora police district. A senior police official said that a cordon and search operation was launched based on inputs regarding presence of militants in the area.
“The militants were hiding in a house and as soon as the cordon was launched they opened indiscriminate fire towards the security forces,” the police official said, adding that the fire was retaliated and Sham was killed in the initial exchange of fire.
The official acknowledged that the slain militant was indeed Shameem Ahmad Sofi. “We have retrieved the body but the operation is still on. Further searches in the area are being carried out,” the official said, adding that they suspect more militants might be trapped in the area.
There has been an uptick in anti-militancy operations in Kashmir following targeted civilian killings in Srinagar. In south Kashmir, this was the third gunfight in less than 24 hours.
On Tuesday, two gunfights were reported from Shopian district in south Kashmir in which five militants were killed. Gunfights have also been reported from Srinagar and north Kashmir’s Bandipora district in the past 24 hours.