5 militants including minor killed in two gun battles in Kashmir

Former SPO shot dead in Budgam

Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar, Apr 11: Five militants including a minor were killed in two separate gun battles in Southern Kashmir today while a 35-year old former SPO was shot dead in Budgam.
Among five, three were killed in Chitragam area of Shopian and two in Semthan, Bijbehara area of Anantnag district. One of the slain militants was identified as 16-year-old who had recently joined militancy.
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Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, told Excelsior that three militants were killed in orchards in between Reban, Bandpawa and Chitragam villages of Shopian district today.
He said that a joint operation was launched by Police, Army’s 34 RR and CRPF on specific information about the presence of militants in Shopian area.
“One militant was killed on Saturday evening after they turned down repeated surrender offers given to them by security forces,” he said.
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He added that the family of a 16-year old boy Faisal Gulzar Ganai was taken to the encounter spot. “He first responded to surrender offer but wasn’t allowed by the other militants and later he himself rejected surrender offers”, he said.
Kumar said that as the troops approached towards the suspected spot, the hiding militants fired upon them, which was retaliated, triggering an encounter.
“During the operation militants were given an opportunity to surrender. However, they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party which was retaliated leading to an encounter. In the initial retaliatory firing, one militant was killed, but the operation was suspended to give the trapped militants another chance to surrender, he said.
The IGP said that in the wee hours, during the fierce gunfight both the trapped militants were killed and bodies of all the three killed militants were recovered from the site of encounter.
He identified the militants as Aasif Ahmad Ganai and Faisal Gulzar Ganai, both residents of Chitragam Kalan. However, identity of the 3rd killed militant is being ascertained. He said that they were part of groups involved in many militancy-related cases and linked with proscribed outfit Al-Badr.
Arms and ammunition including one AK-56 rifle, two pistols and other incriminating materials were recovered from the site of encounter.
The IGP Kashmir once again made an appeal to militants to shun the path of violence and return to mainstream as the society needs them and most importantly their parents. “We will welcome and accept them with open arms”, he added.
Two militants were killed in a gun battle in Semthan area of Bijbehara in Anantnag district today. Security forces launched an operation based on a police input about presence of two militants hiding in a house in the village yesterday.
During the searches, militants hiding in a house opened indiscriminate fire on search parties, which was retaliated by security forces.
Kumar said that amidst the ensuing encounter, all the civilians trapped in the gunfire were evacuated to safety and the operation was halted for the night.
“While ensuring all civilians are safe, the operation was resumed today morning and both the militants got killed in the exchange of fire. They were given ample opportunities to surrender and face the law. Two AK series rifles and other arms and ammunition were recovered from the possession of killed militants,” he said.
The militants were identified as Towseef Ahmad Bhat son of Mohammad Ramzan, resident of Takia Maqbool Shah Bijbehara and Aamir Hussain Ganie son of Abdul Rashid, resident of Goriwan Bijbehara, Anantnag. While as Towseef was active since 2017 and Aamir had joined militant ranks in the year 2018,” he added.
The IGP said that both of them were wanted in many militancy related incidents including in the killing of an off-duty Territorial Army soldier Mohamamd Saleem Akhoon of Goriwan Bijbehara.
He said that after the killing of Army jawan, round the clock track teams set out to track them down to bring them to justice. “The teams finally zeroed them resulting in encounter,” he said.
Police said that the duo were also wanted in last year’s attack on CRPF party in the area. The killed duo had been threatening and intimidating the civilian population of the area and enticing the young boys to join ranks.
So far this year 36, militants were killed in different encounters and among them 19 belonged to Shopian district alone.
And a 35-year old man was shot dead by militants in Mazahama area of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district here today.
Militants fired upon a civilian identified as Nasir Ahmad Khan son of Ghulam Mohd Khan, resident of Buchipora Magam. He was shifted to nearby hospital for treatment where doctors declared him as brought dead. He was working in SOG Humhama and Magam as SPO 14 years back and later left the job.
Soon after the attack whole area has been cordoned off to nab the attackers
IGP Kumar said initial investigations revealed that LeT militant Mohammad Yousuf Kantro and his associates were involved in his killing.