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Five militants, civilian killed in Kulgam gunfight, clashes

Srinagar, Sep 15: Five militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizb ul Mujahideen outfits and a civilian were killed in a gunfight and clashes in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Saturday.

Army’s Srinagar based defense spokesman, Col Rajesh Kalia, in a statement said that the operation ended with the killing of five militants at Chowgam.

 

He said that bodies of the slain along with weapons and other “warlike stores” were recovered.

A police spokesman identified the slain militants as Gulzar Ahmad Padder alias Saif resident of Adijan Kulgam, Faisal Ahmad Rather alias Dawood resident of Yamrach Kulgam, Zahid Ahmad Mir alias Hashim resident of Okey Kulgam, Masroor Molvi alias Abu Darda resident of Fatehpora Anantnag and Zahoor Ahmad Lone alias Rehman Bhai resident of Nagnad Noorabad Damhal Hanjipora.

The gunfight broke out late Friday night after a joint team of army and SOG launched a cordon-and-search operation at Chowgam village.

In wake of the encounter, authorities suspended internet services in parts of Kulgam and Anantnag. Railway authorities were also suspended in the valley.

The killing of militants sparked spontaneous shutdown in South Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Pulwama and Anantnag. All shops and business establishments remained shut while transport also remained off the roads.

Over two dozen protesters sustained injuries during clashes that erupted near the encounter site.  Reports said that youth took to streets as soon as the news of gunfight spread in the area. They said the protesters pelted the forces with stones to disrupt the operation.

The forces, they said, fired live ammunition and pellets to chase away the protesters.

An official at district hospital Anantnag said that twenty-two injured were brought to the facility for treatment.

“Five among them, two with firearm and three with pellet injury in eyes, were referred to Srinagar for specialized treatment,” said the official.

According to a police source, a youth identified as Rouf Ahmad Ganaie, son of Saleem Ganaie of Al Farooq Colony Anchidora, Anantnag was critically injured after being hit by a bullet near the gunfight site.

He was rushed to a hospital in Srinagar, however, he died on the way. Saleem had sustained a bullet wound in his neck.

Confirming the killing of a civilian, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Munir Ahmad Khan told Kashmir News Service said that all the other injured persons are stable.

He added that the joint operation that led to the killing of five militants was over.

Khan further added that they exercised maximum restraint, saying that the operation was a big success as five militants affiliated with both Hizb and LeT were killed in the gunfight.

A Police spokesperson, later in the day, said that Gulzar Paddar, one of the slain militants, was a close associate of Altaf Kachroo and “was involved in a series of militant attacks including killing of five police personnel at Pambay last year along with two bank employees.”

“He was also involved in the killings of SPO at Krewan Chidder in Kulgam,” police said, adding that besides “he was involved in looting police guards at Damhaal and weapon snatching cases reported across Kulgam and many other bank robbery cases attempted in the area.”

Zahid, the other slain militant, as per police spokesperson was wanted for his “involvement in the killing of policeman Fayaz Ahmad of Zainapora on the day of Eid while as Faisal was involved in the killing of Policeman Gowhar Ahmad who was posted in Shopian last year.”

“Zahoor @ Rehman and Mansoor were involved in series of militancy offences besides recruitment bid in the locality,” police spokesman said, adding that arms and ammunition were also seized from the site of encounter.