Srinagar, Feb 12: Eight persons including four militants, two Army personnel and equal number of civilians were killed and around two dozen civilians were injured in a fierce gun battle followed by clashes in South Kashmir district of Kulgam today.
A senior police officer said that four militants were killed in an encounter with police and security forces in Kulgam district today in which two Army personnel and a civilian also lost their lives.
The officer said that acting on a specific information about the presence of militants in Nagbal, Frisal area of Kulgam district, Kulgam Police along with 1-RR and 18th Battalion of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) cordoned off the suspected house and started the search operation.
He said that during the cordon three militants managed to escape and the hiding militants opened fire on the joint search party. In the initial firing, two soldiers of 1-RR identified as Raguveer Singh and Bandoriya Gopal Singh were killed and a civilian Ishfaq Majeed Reshi son of Abdul Majeed Reshi was also killed. “Two more security forces personnel received grievous injuries”, he said.
Four militants were killed in the gun battle and they have been identified as Farooq Ahmad Bhat son of Abdul Gani Bhat, resident of Checki Dessand, Mohammad Younis Lone son of Ghulam Qadir Lone, resident of Hawoora, both from Hizbul Mujahideen and Mudisir Ahmad Tantary alias Assim son of Mohammad Akbar Tantray resident of Redwani Kulgam and Wakeel Ahmad Thoker son of Mohammad Ahsan resident of Hadigam, both of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). Two AK rifles, two pistols, one Insas rifle and ammunition were recovered from the encounter site.
Police said that these militants were involved in several incidents of militancy including the killing of police men.
Brigadier R Chakarborty told a news conference in Anantnag that it was a joint operation carried out by Army and SOG of Police. He said the killed militants were linked with Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
“At around 11.30 pm we came to know from the police that four militants are hiding in Frisal village and some 4-5 suspected houses were immediately identified. Around 12 a.m., we cordoned off the houses where they were hiding”, he said.
The Army officer said: “In the morning, we came to know that a civilian was also trapped inside the house along with the militants, which forced us to delay the operation for 4-5 hours. We would have otherwise finished the operation during the night.”
“To deal with the hostage-like situation, we called the members of Auqaf Committee of the village who despite making several pleas could not motivate militants to release the civilian. This is the first time when militants had taken a civilian hostage.
“When we were moving in, the civilian saw us and started to run towards us but militants opened fire and killed the civilian. Two of our soldiers also lost their lives during the process”, said Brigadier Chakarborty.
The officer said: “We somehow managed to take the dead bodies of civilians and the soldiers. But soon after retrieving the bodies, we launched a final assault and killed all the four militants”, he said adding all the militants were active from last two years in the area.
The people in the area came out in street as the encounter was in progress. They pelted stones on security forces near the encounter site. The security forces fired teargas and pellets in which around two dozen persons were injured.
Two of them were shifted to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital for advance treatment as they received bullet injures in lower parts of the body. One of them Mushtaq Ibrahim Itoo succumbed to his injuries.
Some of the injured have been identified as Sajad Ahmad Dar of Haoura, Shakir Ahmad of Rishipora, Danish Mir of Frisal, Mushtaq Ibrahim of Hathigam, Idris Ahmad of Badroo and Aamir Altaf.
A Police spokesman while giving details said that in the aftermath of encounter, law and order situation occurred in which some individuals sustained injuries. “Among the injured, one person identified as Mushtaq Ibrahim Itoo son of Mohammad Ibrahim resident of Hatigam, Srigufwara succumbed to his injuries. In this connection investigation is going on”, he added.
The separatists have called for a strike tomorrow against the killing of two civilians. Both the factions of Hurriyat Conference (HC) and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), have called for a general strike tomorrow against the killings.