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Six killed in Anantnag gunfight

By Mudassir Kuloo

Srinagar, Jun 22: Four militants, a civilian and a policeman were killed in an encounter at Srigufwara in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Friday.

At least two dozen civilians suffered injuries, ten of them with bullets during the clashes that erupted while the gunfight was going on. At least two of those were declared critical by medicos treating them.

The encounter broke out early in the morning on Friday when Army, CRPF and police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) were carrying searches in the area. Following which, the forces cordoned off the area.

During the gun battle, four militants including Dawood Ahmad, ISJK commander, alias Burhan of HMT Srinagar, a civilian and a policeman were killed.

The other three militants killed in the encounter were identified as Majid Manzoor Dar from Talangam Awantipora, Ashraf Itoo from Hatigam Srigufwara, and Adil Hassan Mir from Sheipora Srigufwara.

The militants were reportedly hiding in the house of Muhammad Yousuf Rather, who along with his wife Hafeeza were injured in the initial firing and shifted to sub-district hospital Bijbehara for treatment. However, Rather succumbed, while as his wife was shifted to SKIMS Srinagar in a critical condition.

Later, an SPO Ashiq Hussain, associated with SOG was also killed.

Friday’s was the first gunfight after the state was put under the Governor’s rule.

Earlier in the morning, as the news broke of trapped militants, hundreds of people particularly marched towards the encounter site, triggering off massive clashes.

The forces resorted to pellets and bullet firing and used tear smoke shells in which at least two dozen civilians were injured.

Chief Medical Officer, Anantnag, Dr Fazil Kochak said they received 24 injured people.

“Eight have been referred to Srinagar while two among them were critical. The others have been discharged from the hospital. Some were having firearm and pellet injuries,” he said.

Medical Superintendent SKIMS Soura, Dr Farooq Ahmad Jan, said that they received four injured from Anantnag.  “Two have head injuries. One has been operated open and is critical. The other two have neck and leg injuries, they are stable,” he said.

Among the injured, eight have been identified Rafiqa Akther, 40, wife of Ghulam Mohd Rather of Nowshera (Trauma Right Hand Bullet Injury), Nissar Ahmad Itoo, 27, of Hatigam (Pellet injury in both legs), Gowhar Ahmad, 25, of Waghama (pellet injury in both arm), Zahid Ahmad, 24, of Waghama (Pellet injury face with left eye), Tahir Ahmad Najar, 26, of Waghama (Bullet injury left arm with fracture), Suhail Farooq, 21, of Nowshera (Bullet injury with left thigh) and Aadil Ahmad Sheikh,22, of Magraypora (Bullet injury left leg).

Meanwhile, a police spokesperson in a statement said, “Pursuing credible leads about the presence of Terrorists in Khiram area of Sirigufwara in District Anantnag, a search was launched by a joint team of Army, CRPF and Police in morning hours today in the area.”

The spokesperson said, “Joint patrol made an advance towards the suspected house, terrorists hiding inside fired indiscriminately on the security forces due to which a policeman Ashiq Hussain and a civilian identified as Mohd Yousuf Rather, aged 53 son of Gull Mohd Rather resident of Nowshahar Khiram, got injured and succumbed to their injuries. Consequently some more civilians also got injured and were shifted to hospital.”

The police statement said that slain militants have been identified as Dawood Ahmad Sofi, Majid Manzoor Dar, Aadil Rehman Bhat and Mohammad Ashraf Itoo.

The spokesperson said that Dawood, 33, son of Mohammad Subhan Sofi, a resident of Zainakoot HMT Srinagar was involved in number of stone pelting cases in the area prior to joining the outfit.

“He was involved in the attack which resulted in death of ASI Ghulam Mohammad and HC Naseer Ahmad at Bagh–Ali-Mardan Khan in Zadibal and also in the killing of policeman and snatching his rifle at Tengpora Batamaloo besides other terror attacks,” the statement reads.

The police spokesperson said that Dawood was known to be affiliated with TuM outfit. “This gang was active on social media and mostly attacked the policemen on duty at different places. The social media profiling and inputs indicate that they were inspired by ISIS module,” the spokesperson said.

Majid Manzoor Dar of Talangam Pulwama also joined the militant outfit and remained active along with Aadil Rehman Bhat of Shettipora Bijbehara and Mohd Ashraf Itoo of Hatigam Srigufwara Anantnag, the spokesman said.

Authorities suspended the Internet service in Pulwama, Anantnag, and Srinagar.