J&K: Six militants, soldier killed in Shopian encounter

A civilian was killed, and several others injured during subsequent clashes between forces and protesters near the encounter site. (PTI file photo for representation)

Six militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfits, including Abass Sheikh and a soldier were killed in a fierce encounter between security forces and ultras in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday.
 
A civilian was killed, and several others injured during subsequent clashes between forces and protesters near the encounter site. 
 
Reports said the encounter started on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday when the Army’s 34-Rashtriya Rifles, paramilitary CRPF and special operation group (SOG) of J&K Police launched a cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) in Batagund village of Kapran in Shopian, 60 kilometres from Srinagar after a tip-off. 
 
“As the cordon was tightened, the militants fired at the forces, triggering a gunfight. In the initial firing four militants were killed,” a police officer said, adding that two more militants who escaped from the house where they were trapped, were killed later.
 
He said an army soldier of 162 Battalion Territorial Army, identified as Nazir Ahmad, was killed in the encounter. The slain, he said, was a resident of neighbouring Kulgam district.
 
Police identified the slain militants as Mushtaq Ahmad Mir alias Hammad alias Musha, Mohammad Abass Sheikh, Umar Majeed Ganaie alias Maaz alias Abu Hanzalla, Mohammad Waseem Wagay alias Saifullah, Khalid Farooq Malik alias Rafi alias Talha. 
 
“From the material evidence collected, one militant is learnt to be a foreigner from Pakistan. It was a combined group of Hizbul and LeT," a police spokesman said.
 
The picture of Abu Hanzalla seated at a pavilion situated in the city centre, (Lal Chowk)’s Clock Tower had gone viral on social media last week. Hanzalla, according to police was district commander of Hizbul for Kulgam and was involved in several killings of policemen and civilians. “He was also involved in the Pombai bank attack, in which four policemen and two bank guards lost their lives,” the spokesman said.
 
Abass Sheikh, he said, was involved in the killing of young Kashmiri army officer, Lt. Omar Fayaz, who was killed by the militants after abducting him from a marriage function in Shopian last year.
 
Reports said as soon as the news of gunfight spread in the area, the youth took to streets in Batagund and pelted stones at the security forces, who retaliated by firing pellets and live ammunition, leaving at least seven persons wounded.
 
Reports said one of the injured Noman Ashraf Bhat, who was hit by a bullet, was shifted to district hospital Kulgam where he was declared dead on arrival.
 
This was the third anti-militancy operation in south Kashmir since Tuesday. So far, 16 militants and two soldiers have been killed in three encounters. On Friday, six militants belonging to LeT and Hizbul were killed in Anantnag district. The slain militants included LeT commander Azad Malik, whom police blamed for the killing of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari earlier this year.
 
On Tuesday four Hizbul militants and a paratrooper from the Army, were killed in an encounter at Nadigam village of Shopian.

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J&K: Six militants, soldier killed in Shopian encounter

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