Militant who killed soldier Aurangzeb among four killed

The forces retaliated and in the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed. (PTI File Photo)

Four militants, including the one involved in the killing of solider Aurangzeeb last year, were killed in two separate gunfights with security forces in Pulwama and Sopore areas of Kashmir on Friday.

In a pre-dawn encounter, security forces killed three militants affiliated with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit at Panzgam area of south Kashmir’s volatile Pulwama district. The gunfight erupted after army’s 55-Rashtriya Rifles and special operations group of Jammu and Kashmir police launched a cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) in the area during wee hours of Saturday following a ‘credible input’ about the presence of ultras in the area.

A police spokesperson said as the CASO was going on in the area, the hiding militants fired upon a search party. “In the retaliatory action, three militants were,” he said and identified the slain ultras as Showkat Dar, Irfan War and Muzaffar Sheikh, all locals, affiliated with Hizbul.

Police said Dar was part of a group involved in the killing of Army jawan Aurangzeb in 2018. “He was also involved in the killing of a policeman Aqib Ahmad Wagay last year and was active since September 2016,” he added.

Hours later one more militant was killed in a separate gunfight in Hathlangoo village of north Kashmir’s Sopore, 55 km from here. Reports said the gunfight broke out after a joint team of army’s 22 RR, and police launched a CASO in the area following “specific information” about the presence of militants inside a residential house.

The slain ultra was identified Waseem Ahmad Naik, who had gone missing in March this year from his home in southern Awantipora area.

In the wake of the killing of the militants, the authorities suspended Internet services in Pulwama and Sopore, a common government practice, aimed to calm tensions and prevent anti-India demonstrations from being organized. 

The latest encounters came just two days after five militants, two soldiers and two civilians were killed in two separate gunfights in Pulwama and neighbouring Shopian districts. There has been a spurt in encounters between security forces and ultras after the Lok Sabha polls ended in the state on May 6 with 15 ultras, two army soldiers and two civilians getting killed.

According to official figures, 89 militants have been killed this year while the number was 272 in 2018. Post-February 14 Pulwama fidayeen (suicide) attack, 57 militants have been killed, of them 25 belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit.

Pulwama and neighbouring Shopian districts have been the primary focus of the security forces this year so far as out of total 89 militants killed across the Valley, 51 were killed in these twin districts alone in 23 encounters, official data reveals.

Meanwhile, militants on Saturday morning managed to escape after a brief exchange of fire in Dehruna village of Anantnag district. An official confirmed that militants managed to escape in Dehruna and operation has been called off.

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