Anantnag: Three militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were killed in a gunfight with government forces Tuesday evening, here in Shopian district in south Kashmir, the police said.
The slain militants were yet to be identified when this report was filed. A police source, however, said that the militants are believed to have been local residents.
“Their identity is being ascertained,” the police source said, adding, “A search operation continues in the area.”
The gunfight was reported from Nagbal area of Shopian district, where the forces had launched a massive cordon and search operation late afternoon today. “We had prior inputs regarding the presence of militants in the area, following which the operation was initiated,” a senior police official from the area said.
Subsequently, he said, contact was established with the hiding militants and they were asked to lay down their arms, an offer they promptly refused. “They opened indiscriminate fire instead, which was retaliated and the militants were gunned down,” the official said.
He said that the bodies of the militants along with arms, ammunition, and some incriminating material have been retrieved from the site of the gunfight. “After the identification is ascertained and medico-legal formalities are completed, their bodies will be sent to an undisclosed location for burial,” the official said.
The authorities have refused to hand over bodies of slain militants to their families, citing Covid protocol, since April 2020. The practice of burying militants at undisclosed locations in presence of a few family members has continued ever since. This has prevented people from holding massive funeral prayers for slain militants, wherein tens of thousands of people would normally participate.
With the killing of these three militants, the number of militants killed in the month of August has reached six – all of them affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba. Three of them were killed in a gunfight in Budgam district in central Kashmir on August 10.
Today’s gunfight was the third this month. The first took place in Kulgam district and resulted in injuries to an army man and a civilian.
This year has been a bloody one thus far. More than 125 militants have been killed, 32 of them non-locals believed to be Pakistani nationals.
Militants have also been carrying out frequent attacks on government forces, civilians affiliated with political parties, on-leave policemen, non-locals, and members of the Kashmiri Pandit and other minority communities.