Srinagar: Six militants were killed in two separate gunfights in Kashmir’s Anantnag and Baramulla districts on Thursday which triggered massive clashes and protests which led to several people being injured, Greater Kashmir reported.
Four militants were killed in a gunfight in Arwani village of Bijbehara area in southern Anantnag district on Thursday evening. The slain militants were identified as Sahir Makroo of Arwani, Owais Ahmad Lone from Hawora-Mishpora area of Kulgam district, Muzamil Magray of Watoo Aharbal and Amir Tantray of Damal Hanjipora Kulgam.
Greater Kashmir, citing a source, said that following “credible input” about presence of militants, the police and army launched searches in Kharmohalla locality of Arwani at around 4 pm.
“As the forces zeroed in on a house where militants were suspected to be hiding, the militants resorted to indiscriminate firing and tried to escape. But they were confronted by the forces in an open field,” the source said.
A brief gunfight took place and soon thereafter, three bodies along with three weapons, were recovered from the spot, the source said as per GK.
“Searches were again launched as forces suspected presence of more militants in the area. In the process, militants—believed to be one or more in number—fired at forces from another house. The fire was retaliated, triggering a fierce gunfight,’ the source said.
According to the source, the gunfight continued till 9 pm during which forces used heavy artillery.
“We could hear loud explosions,” locals were quoted by GK as having said over the phone. They said that forces were probably blowing up the house with explosives.
“One more body was recovered from the gun-battle site along with a weapon, taking the toll to four,” a police official said. He said the operation has been called off.
During the oncoming gunfight, clashes erupted in the area. People came out and resorted to heavy stone pelting on forces who retaliated with aerial firing, teargas shelling as well as firing of metallic pellets. Several people sustained injuries in the clashes.
The police issued an advisory asking people not to go towards the gunfight site.
“Citizens are once again requested not to venture inside the site of encounter since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitised and cleared of explosives materials, if any,” a police statement read.
Moreover, two militants were killed and a personnel injured in a day-long gunfight in Athoora Kreeri area in northern Baramulla district on Thursday.
Late last night, one of the identities of the slain militants was established as a teenager, Aqeel Rashid Sofi, 17 of Khanpora from Khanpora area of Baramulla. Sofi had joined the militant organisation LeT on September 5 this year and was a close associate of LeT commander Suhaib Akhoon who too happens to be a resident of Khanpora.
In a statement, a police spokesman said that based on “credible information” about presence of militants, the police and other forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in the area.
“While making all efforts to motivate the hiding militants to surrender, the militants refused the offer and fired from inside on the search party. In the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed,” the statement read.
Residents of Athoora-Kreeri said that slain militants gave tough time to forces and “it was only after forces blasted the house around evening that guns fell silent.”
During the gunfight, protesters pelted stones at the forces.
In response, police hurled several teargas shells to disperse the protesters. However, the clashes continued for several hours.
In Baramulla town, following rumours about the death of local militants in the Athroora gunfight, a group of protesters at Khanpora pelted stones at policemen who in turn hurled teargas shells to disperse them. Clashes in this area also continued for several hours.
Following the gunfight, additional contingents of police were rushed to the Old Town and Khanpora areas, while forces were deployed at main bridges of the town in good numbers.
The authorities also snapped internet services in Baramulla and Sopore.
Meanwhile, forces have been deployed in strength where protests erupted soon after the news of Sofi’s killing spread in the area.