Soldier martyred, another injured
JAMMU, Feb 28: Two local militants involved in the killing of a Pandit bank guard were killed and a soldier martyred in a gunfight that broke out in Padgampora, Awantipora in Pulwama district today.
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A joint team of police, Army and CRPF on a specific input about the presence of militants in the village, launched a search operation in Padgampora, Awantipora during the night.
As the security forces intensified searches towards the suspected spot, the hiding militants fired upon the party, which retaliated, thus triggering an encounter.
Additional Director General of Police Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said that during exchange of fire two militants were killed and they have been identified as Aqib Mushtaq Bhat of Malangpora who was associated with HM and for past few months working with TRF and Aijaz Bhat of Pastuna, Tral who was associated with JeM and also working in coordination TRF. “Aqib was active since January 2021 and Aijaz was active since May 2022,” he said. He added that they were involved in the killing of Sanjay Pandita at Achan, Pulwama.
An police spokesman said that during the search, militants hiding inside a mosque opened indiscriminate fire upon search parties and in this initial exchange of fire, two jawans of Army sustained grievous injuries while neutralizing one militant on spot. “One of the jawans later on attained martyrdom,” the spokesman said.
“Extreme caution and limited firepower was used in view of the sacred precincts. Civilians praying inside were also evacuated on time preventing any collateral damage,” he said.
The spokesman said that after resuming the search for the second militant who was holed up inside a bathroom of an adjacent building, again caution was exercised and 14 civilians were rescued from the place before he was neutralized.
The spokesman said that incriminating materials, arms and ammunition including one AK-47 rifle, one AK-74 rifle, one pistol, three grenades, two pouches, five AK magazines, two pistol magazines, 103 AK rounds, 20 pistol rounds and two Aadhar cards were recovered from the site of encounter.
The spokesman said that investigation so far revealed that both the militants, although belonging to different organisations, had come together to conspire and attack minorities, outsiders, other vulnerable targets and security forces. “They were involved in recent killing of Sanjay Pandita at Achan, Pulwama, attack on 2 outside labourers at Lajoora, weapon snatching attempt and other cases.
A Defence spokesman in Srinagar said that the militants in order to evade security forces, occupied a Mosque in the target area. “Ensuring the sanctity of the mosque, the security forces closed in and appealed to the terrorists to surrender. The terrorists, however, opened indiscriminate fire on security Forces and when cornered, used civilians in target area as a shield to escape. The security forces displayed utmost restraint and evacuated civilians praying inside the mosque thereby preventing any collateral damage,” he said, adding that “the security forces fired with extreme caution to preserve the sacred precincts and neutralized one terrorist on the spot.”
He said that during the gun battle a Sepoy Pawan Kumar and Naik Hemraj, lead from the front and suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were immediately evacuated to 92 Base Hospital, Srinagar.
“Sepoy Pawan Kumar in a sheer act of bravery over powered the first terrorist in a hand to hand combat and was grievously injured. He subsequently succumbed to his injuries, making the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Army,” he said.