4 militants, minor boy killed in Kashmir encounter

Last Updated 22 March 2019, 12:57 IST

Four militants and a minor boy were killed in separate encounters between security forces and ultras across Kashmir on Friday, taking the number of militants killed over the past 24 hours to six.

A police official said two Pakistani militants affiliated with Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) and a 12-year-old boy were killed in an overnight encounter in Mir Mohalla, Hajin of Bandipora district, 32 kms from here.

The operation had started on Thursday afternoon, but the security forces had to proceed with caution as two civilians were stuck in the house where militants were trapped, he said.

Reports said the security forces blasted off the house, where the militants were hiding, and all the three bodies - two militants and the minor boy - were charred.

“Two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists were killed in the Hajin encounter. From incriminating material, both the terrorists were identified as Pakistani nationals, Ali and Hubaib,” a police spokesman said.

He said while one hostage — Abdul Hameed was rescued Thursday evening, the second hostage — minor boy Aatif Ahmad — “could not be saved and was brutally killed by terrorists.”.

The police had earlier claimed that the militants held eight family members inside the house, but seven of them were rescued.

In a separate encounter, two militants were killed on Friday morning in an encounter with security forces in southern Shopian district. The gunfight erupted after security forces launched a cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) in Imam sahib area of Shopian, 58 kms from here, following information about the presence of militants there, an army official said.

He said the militants opened fire on the forces, who retaliated, triggering a gun battle. Two militants were killed in the operation, the official said, adding that the identity and group affiliation of the slain ultra was being ascertained.

On Thursday evening two Jaish-e-Mohammad militants were killed and three security forces personnel injured at Bandi Payeen village in Kandi area of northern Baramulla district. Police identified the slain ultras as Amir Rasool, a local from Sopore, while the other was a non-local.

Another gun battle which is going on between militants and security forces in Sopore area of northern Baramulla district, a police official said. No casualties have been reported so far in the operation that is going on in Warpora area of Sopore.

While the four districts of south Kashmir – Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag – have emerged as the hotbed of a new wave of localised militancy in the last four years, a large number of ultras are reportedly concentrating in northern parts of the Valley, not far from the Line of Control (LoC).

Local militants operating in south Kashmir, a police officer said, are poorly trained and not well equipped. “Being close to LoC, the militants in the north have access to more sophisticated weapons. In coming times, more encounters will be reported in the north, and security forces can suffer more casualties due to the fact that battle-hardened Pakistani militants are present in north Kashmir with latest weapons,” he warned.

(Published 22 March 2019, 04:35 IST)

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