Militant attack, gunfight in Baramulla leave at least 6 dead; operation halted for night
Two CRPF personnel, SPO killed in morning attack in Kreeri; attackers pursued, at least 2 militants including top LeT commander, army man killed by day end
Srinagar: A deadly attack followed by a gunfight with the militants in Kreeri area of Baramulla have left at least six including two militants, and four security personnel dead even as the operation which began Monday morning continues when this report is being filed.
At around 9:30 am, two CRPF personnel and a policeman were killed after militants attacked a joint checkpoint (naka) party in Kreeri area of Baramulla district.
A senior police officer said that militants fired a volley of bullets at the forces. The attack was retaliated triggering a brief exchange of firing during which one militant was injured, however, the attackers managed to slip away.
One Special Police Officer (SPO) identified as Muzaffar Ahmad was killed and two CRPF troopers, Constable Lokesh Sharma and Constable Khurshid Khan of 119 Bn CRPF, were injured and subsequently shifted to nearby hospital, the officer said.
The two, however, succumbed, soon after, he added.
Following the attack the area was cordoned off and all exit points were sealed to ensure the militants couldn’t slip through, he said.
A joint team of Army, CRPF and SOG of Jammu and Kashmir police launched a Cordon and Search Operation in the area and soon were able to “establish contact” with the militants.
As the encounter ensued, at least two militants and an army soldier were killed while another army soldier was grievously injured, the officer added.
The condition of the wounded soldier is stated to be critical as he was being treated at the army hospital.
News agency GNS quoting official sources said the operation has been “suspended for the night and would resume with the first light of day.”
As per the GNS, a top commander of LeT is believed to be trapped.
Briefing about the encounter, Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said that soon after the militants launched an attack at Kreeri killing three armed forces personnel, the forces engaged the attackers and killed “three” militants including top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Sajad Haider, who was operating on the lines of slain Hizb commander Burhan Wani to recruit local boys into militancy.
The DGP said that the other two other slain militants were identified as Anayatullah Mir of Pattan and “another Lashkar commander from Pakistan named Usman. “
A police spokesperson, however, confirmed only two militant deaths – Sajad and Anayatullah – so far.
Addressing a press conference at the Police Control Room here, the DGP said that Sajad Haider alias Raja was one of the top most wanted commanders in J&K.
“He was like Burhan Wani and had joined militancy in the 2016 winters. Like Burhan, Sajad too would lure youth into militancy. We have arrested at least 20 youth who were recruited by Sajad besides many Over Ground Workers (OGWs),” the DGP Singh.
Flanked by the IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar, the DGP said that Sajad was involved in a series of “crimes and militancy related incidents that include killing of fruit merchants, security forces personnel, and non-local labourers.”
He said that of late, Sajad had started working like slain Hizb commander Reyaz Naikoo and would release video messages to lure youth and issue fresh threats to political workers and forces. “His killing is a big success for security forces,” the DGP said.
He said Sajad had taken along one of his recruits Anayatullah Mir, who joined Lashkar in March this year, to carry out the attack. “Mir was injured in the first retaliation by one of our Head Constables just a few meters away from the attack spot where three security forces personnel were killed,” DGP Singh said.
He said the third militant was identified as Usman, a Pakistani, who was also operating with Sajad in the northern belt of Kashmir. (His death however has not been confirmed in the official police statement).
Asked about the sequence of the attack and retaliatory action by the forces, the DGP said that in the morning, militants attacked a joint patrolling cum naka party of police and CRPF in which two CRPF men and an SPO were killed. “Just minutes after the attack, special operations group (SoG) of police engaged the militants and one was hit just at the bund, a few meters away from the attack site.
He later managed to flee inside the orchards. In the meantime, SoG men surrounded the orchards and after they were joined by the army and CRPF, one militant who was sitting on a tree, started firing. He was the first one to be killed by the security forces,” the DGP said, adding that “it was after him that the injured militant was killed.”
He said as forces kept searching the area, another militant fired and he too was engaged and later killed.
“In total three militants were killed in the operation that is going on still since morning,” the DGP Singh said. (With inputs from GNS and KNO)