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6 LeT-Hizb militants, soldier killed in Shopian encounter

Srinagar, Nov 25: Two days after six militants of outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen were shot dead in a gunfight in Anantnag, an equal number of militants of the same outfits were Sunday killed in a pre-dawn encounter with government forces in Shopian district.

A soldier was also killed in the fierce encounter which began during the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday when 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, Shopian.

A police official said as soon the cordon was tightened, the militants fired at the forces, triggering a gunfight.

In the initial firing four militants, as per the official, were killed. Two more militants, who escaped from the house where they were trapped, were killed later.

An Army soldier, identified as Nazir Ahmad of 162 Territorial Army a resident of Ashmuji Kulgam, who was currently with 34 RR, was also killed in the encounter.

“The fire from the militants was retaliated leading to a gunfight. Initially, one soldier of 34 RR sustained injuries in the exchange of fire. He was evacuated to the hospital and is stated to be stable now. However another soldier identified as Nazir Ahmad of 34 RR who got grievously injured in the final phase of the encounter succumbed,” a police spokesperson said.

Five of the slain militants were identified as Mushtaq Ahmad Mir alias Hammad son of Ghulam Hassan Mir of Cheki-Cholan Shopian; Mohammad Abass Bhatt son of Abdul Jabbar Bhat of Cheki Mantribugh Shopian; Umar Majeed Ganaie alias Maaz and Abu Hanzalla son of Abdul Majeed Ganaie of Souch Kulgam; Mohd Waseem Wagay alias Saifullah son of Abdul Hameed Wagay of Amshipora, Shopian; and Khalid Farooq Malik alias Rafi of Baghander Aliyalpora Shopian.

As per the police spokesperson, from the material evidence collected, the sixth slain militant was a Pakistani.

“It was a combined group of Hizb and LeT. Mushtaq Ahmad Mir @Hammad was affiliated with LeT and was operating as District commander for Shopian, while Mohd Abaas, Waseem Wagay, Umar Majeed Ganai and Khalid were with Hizb. Abass was known as District Commander of Hizb for Shopian and Umar Majeed was operating as Hizb’s district commander for Kulgam,” the police spokesperson said.

The picture of Abu Hanzalla seated at a pavilion situated in the city center, (Lal Chowk)’s Clock Tower had gone viral on social media last week.

Hanzalla, according to police, was Hizb’s district commander for Kulgam. “He was involved in Pombai bank attack, in which four policemen and two bank guards lost their lives,” the spokesman said.

Abass, the spokesperson claimed, was involved in the killing of 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, youth took to streets in Batagund and pelted stones at the government forces, who retaliated by firing pellets and live ammunition, leaving dozens persons wounded.

Among them, one teenager Nouman Ashraf Bhat of Bolous Kulgam, who was hit by a bullet, was shifted to district hospital Kulgam where he was declared dead on arrival.

Later in the day, thousands of people participated in the funeral processions of the slain militants and the civilian.

People, both men and women, marched in hoards to occupy the wide open spaces and offered the prayers.