Hizb-Lashkar group of 6 killed in Bijbehara gunfight
Srinagar, Nov 23: Six militants, including top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander, Azad Ahmad Malik, were Friday killed in a gunfight in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district.
A police spokesperson claimed that based on a credible input about the presence of militants, a cordon and search operation was launched by police and other government forces early dawn on Friday inside a jungle area of Shalgund-Sektipora at Bijbehara in Anantnag.
“As the searches were going on, the search party was fired upon by the militants. The fire was retaliated leading to a gunfight. In the process, six militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter,” the spokesperson said.
“It was a swift operation based on intelligence inputs provided from the ground,” Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Swayam Prakash Pani said here after the encounter ended.
The Army’s spokesperson corroborated the police version.
“We got an intelligence input earlier this morning, on the basis of it we launched a joint op with a team consisting of RR, SOG (Special Op Group) and CRPF troops. Six militants with links to LeT and Hizbul were neutralised,” said Mohsin Shehadi, DIG CRPF, South Kashmir.
The other five militants who died in the gunfight were identified as Basit Ahmad Mir of Pushwara Anantnag, Atif Nazar of Waghama, Firdous Ahmad of Pulwama, Unais Shafi Bhat of Bijbehara and Shahid Malik from Awantipora.
“It was a combined group of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashker-e-Taiba groups. Unais and Basit, as per police records, were with the Hizb. Unais was HM’s commander of Anantnag district. The others were with the LeT,” the police spokesman said.
Malik, as per the police, was among one of the accused in the killing of journalist Shujaat Bukhari.
“Azad was a close associate of absconding accused Naveed Jatt and was wanted in the assassination of journalist Shujaat Bukhari and his security personnel. In this case, a hue and cry notice was issued against the him along with three others on the basis of material evidence collected,” the spokesman said.
“Huge quantity of arms & ammunition including 4 AK 47 rifles and one Insas rifle were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and probe their complicity in other cases,” the spokesman added.
The killings came a day after militants, in purported social media messages, claimed giving government forces a slip and hold a meeting in Srinagar.
Authorities suspended mobile Internet services in Anantnag district as a “precautionary measure.”
Later in the day, at least three rounds of funeral prayers were held for slain LeT commander Malik at his native Arwani area of Bijbehara.
An eye witness said that thousands of people reached Arwani from nearby and far-off place to take part in the last rites of Malik.
He said that three rounds of funeral prayers were held so far.
Meanwhile, massive clashes have erupted in Khanabal area of the district amid a complete shutdown against the killings.
Reports said that forces fired tear gas and pellets on the protesters in Khanabal.
At least three protesters were injured in clashes with the government forces in Bijbehara.
Reports said that youth staged massive protests in Bijbehara following the killing of six militants.
An eye witness said that forces fired live ammunition and tear gas at the protesters who were pelting them with stones, leaving three injured.
Reports said that the injured were shifted to sub-district hospital Bijbehara for treatment where from one of them with a bullet injury was referred to a hospital in Srinagar for specialised treatment.