SRINAGAR: A counterinsurgency policeman was killed and four government forces personnel wounded early Sunday during a brief shootout with militants in Batamaloo area here, police said.
The encounter started after a joint team of special operations group (SOG) of police and paramilitary CRPF troopers zeroed in on a suspected militant hideout at Deyarwani, Batamaloo after receiving a specific tip off about presence of an armed group there.
“Following a specific lead about the presence of militants at Batamaloo, we closed in on a house where they were hiding in a pre-dawn operation,” inspector general of police (IGP) Kashmir range, Swayam Prakash Pani told Greater Kashmir.
He said in the exchange of fire, a policeman from the SoG who was seriously wounded later died. Another policeman and three CRPF men were also wounded in the initial exchange of fire.
Police said the owner the house where the militants were believed hiding, Moulvi Muhammad Shafi is also a militant.
“We have arrested two associates of the militants and their questioning is on,” Pani said.
“We found a blood trail and it is believed that militants while fleeing sustained bullet injuries.”
Pani also said police were ascertaining whether top LeT commander, Naveed Jhat was part of the group.
The slain SOG man was identified as constable Muhammad Abbas, a resident of village Dandote, Tehsil Budhal, district Rajouri.
A witness said he heard a rattle of bullet fire around 4:30 in the morning which woke the entire neighbourhood up.
“The exchange of firing lasted for almost fifteen minutes and then it suddenly stopped,” said Sajid Rashid, a resident of.
Mobile internet services across the summer capital were suspended for many hours after the encounter started.
The incident happened three days ahead of the August 15 as a massive security build up across Srinagar is underway.
Top police officials say the militants were believed to be members of Lashkar-e-Toiba who were planning a major strike in the summer capital on the Independence Day.
The happened near the Unani Hospital, barely a few hundred meters from the shrine of Hazrat Sheikh Dawood popularly known as Batamaloo Sahab (RA).
On July 24, militants targeted a CRPF patrol outside the civil secretariat, killing a paramilitary trooper and injuring another in a broad daylight strike.
Batamaloo area is the extension of Srinagar’s nerve centre Lal Chowk, a high security zone housing the civil secretariat, district police lines (DPL) where offices of inspector general of police, deputy inspector general of police and senior superintendent of police are located.
The area also houses police control room (PCR) and the headquarters of fire and emergency services.
Additional director general of police (ADGP) law and order, security, Muneer Ahmed Khan said government forces exercised maximum restraint and fired cautiously in the congested residential area.
“This was done to avoid collateral damage,” Khan said, adding the arrested residents have revealed the identity of the militants who fled the area.
Inspector general of CRPF for Srinagar sector, Ravideep Sahi said the house was a major hideout for the militants.
“They ( the escaped militants) were planning a big strike on August 15 eve. Taking advantage of darkness and firing indiscriminately, they managed to escape,” Sahi said.
“We have sounded an alert and tightened our vigil to catch them.” __GK News