SRINAGAR, Apr 30: Top Hizbul Mujahideen commander was among two militants killed in an encounter with security forces today at Drabgam area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district while a civilian was killed and 45 others were injured in clashes that broke out during the gun battle.
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Three persons were shot dead by suspected militants at Khanpora area of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district this evening.
Sources said that militants fired upon the three persons near Iqbal Market Khanpora this evening from point blank range killing them on the spot. The dead have been identified as Asghar Ahmad Sheikh, Asif Ahmad Sheikh and Haseeb Khan, all residents of Jamia Mohalla old Town Baramulla.
Police and security forces immediately reached the spot and launched a cordon-and-search operation to trace out the killers. The bodies were taken by the police for post mortem.
The two militants have been identified as Sameer Ahmad Bhat alias Tiger son of Mohammad Maqbool of Drabgam and Aqib Khan son of Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of Rajpora. A civilian Shahid Ashraf Dar, 18, son of Mohammad Ashraf Dar, a resident of Arihal, who was critically injured during the clashes near the encounter site later succumbed to injuries.
A joint party 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) of Army, 182 and 183 Battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) along with Pulwama Police carried out searches at Drabgam village in district Pulwama this morning after inputs about presence of a group of militants in a house.
As the security forces cordoned off the village, militants fired at the security forces injuring an Army major Rohit Shukla and Sepoy Abhinav Pathak. They were shifted to 92 base military hospital in Badami Bagh Srinagar where condition of both them was said to be critical.
Security forces tightened the cordon and both the militants were cornered in the house and gun battle lasted for several hours. Residents of the area gathered at the encounter site and pelted stones at the security forces to disrupt the operation.
Security forces fired teargas, pellets and bullets to quell the protests during which 45 persons were injured and one among them, Shahid Ashraf Dar, succumbed to injuries in the hospital
Among the injured, 12 sustained bullet wounds and 16 others suffered pellet injuries. All the injured have been hospitalized.
Despite stone pelting and clashes, security forces killed both the militants in the operation and later two bodies were recovered from the debris of the house in which they were hiding.
A police spokesman while giving details of the operation said: “Today in the wee hours of morning, a joint party of 44RR, 182/183 CRPF along with Pulwama Police carried out searches at Drabgam village in district Pulwama.”
The spokesman said that as the search was going on, militants fired upon the search party which was retaliated by the security forces, triggering an encounter at Drabgam, Pulwama.
“During the encounter two militants who were trapped inside the cordon have been neutralized and they were identified as Sameer Ahmad Bhat alias Sameer Tiger son of Mohd Maqbool Bhat, a local from Drabgam village, while the other one has been identified as Aqib Mushtaq Khan son of Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, a local resident of Rajpora of Pulwama”, the spokesman added.
He said that Sameer was earlier recruited as an OGW by Hizb after passing Class 8th since he had discontinued his education due to lack of interest in studies. “He was involved in several stone pelting incidents prior to his militant activities. He was active in the area since May 2016 and had remained part of several cases of civilian atrocities in the area”, he added.
“He was involved in the firing incident on the residential house of Ex MLA Syed Bashir Ahmad in Sheikhard and in a grenade attack on the Naka Party at Hawal, Pulwama. Besides his involvement was established in the kidnapping and firing on two civilians from Qasbayar in which one civilian Bashir Ahmad Dar had died instantly while another Altaf Ahmad Dar was seriously injured. Last year he had indiscriminately fired upon a patrolling party of 44 RR besides he had also entered into the residential houses of civilians in South Kashmir and forced them to issue video statements against the Government and security agencies. Several FIRs pertaining to these incidents had been registered in Police Station Rajpora. Sameer was said to be a close confidant of HM commander Riyaz Naikoo and both had been spotted together in a video released recently on social media”, the spokesman added.
The other militant was Aqib Mushtaq Khan, who was active since July 2017. He also had plotted several attacks on the security establishments in South Kashmir along with Sameer Tiger and was closely associated with him after joining the militant ranks.
“Bodies of both the slain militants have been retrieved from the site of encounter. Moreover, 2 AK 47 rifles and other incriminating material have also been seized”, the spokesman added.
“In the incident, one civilian named as Shahid Ahmad Dar, 25, son of Mohd Ashraf Dar resident of Arihal Pulwama died in cross firing while some others were injured who are all stated to be stable”, the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, authorities snapped mobile internet services in South Kashmir parts as a precautionary measure.
The internet was blocked after police have sent a communication to the cellular companies wherein they had directed them to snap down the mobile internet data in Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam with immediate effect.
Authorities have also suspended railway services to and fro South Kashmir from this afternoon. “The train services from Srinagar to Banihal was suspended from 1 pm today. However, the train will run as per normal schedule from Srinagar to Baramulla”, a Railway official said.
Meanwhile, Kashmir University postponed all examinations scheduled for Tuesday. “All Kashmir University examinations scheduled to be held on May 1, 2018 (Tuesday) are postponed,” PRO of the varsity, in a statement issued here, said. “Fresh dates for the deferred examinations shall be notified separately, later”, he added.
Separatist leaders called for a complete strike tomorrow over the killing of a civilian and two militants.