AWANTIPORA: Four militants, a soldier and a policeman were killed in the 12-hour-long anti-militancy operation in Tral area of Pulwama district on Tuesday.
All four militants belonged to Jaish-e-Muhammad outfit. Two of them—Abid of Khangund and Ishfaq of Handoora—are locals. The other two were named by the police as Umar Khalid and Yasir, both Pakistani nationals.
Khalid was the Pakistan-based outfit’s operational commander for southern Kashmir, which is currently the epicenter of a resurgent militancy in Kashmir.
A source said that 42 RR battalion of army launched the operation early Tuesday morning in Gaitangoo forests of Laam-Aripal area.
“At the beginning of the fight a soldier named Ajay Kumar sustained a bullet injury,” he said.
Kumar was shifted to army’s base hospital in Srinagar, where he succumbed.
Militants are then believed to have fled up into the hilly areas of the forest. More soldiers, policemen and CRPF troopers were sent to the area. Latif Gojri, a policeman, was injured. He too succumbed at the army hospital. Two more soldiers injured in the gunfight are being treated at the hospital.
When the gunfight intensified, army used choppers to locate the militants.
“The firing stopped in the evening after,” a police official said.
Awantipora superintendent of police Zahid Malik called the operation a success. He said Khalid had been active in southern Kashmir since 2016 and had replaced Mufti Viqas as the operational commander.
His associate Yasir had also been active since 2016. While Ishfaq had joined in 2016, Abid had been in the Jaish ranks for the past two months only.
A source said that Ishfaq was a cousin of the slain Hizb commander Abid Khan who had shot dead an army colonel, MN Roy, before being gunned down in an encounter in January 2015.
Abid is the son of a policeman.
This was the third major jolt to Jaish this year after the killing of Mufti Vikas of Pakistan and Noor Muhamad Tantray alias Noor Trali at Pulwama.
Trali, barely four feet tall, had been convicted in a militancy related case in 2003 and was in jail till 2015 when he was released on parole.
He joined the Jaish and is considered to be the man behind reviving the outfit in southern Kashmir.
Protests erupted in entire Tral against the killing of the militants.
During the day, clashes erupted in the main town after youths hit the streets and threw rocks at a forces’ vehicle. The forces responded by firing tear gas.
The bodies of the two local militants were yet to be handed over to their families. The Pakistani militants would be taken to northern Kashmir for burial because their funerals have attracted huge number of people in the past. __GK News