Srinagar, May 03: Government forces on early Thursday morning called off the cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) after the trapped militants, believed to be five in number, escaped in Turkawangam village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
An official said that a CASO was launched in the village following a tip-off about the presence of militants on Wednesday. He said the militants opened fire on the forces, triggering a brief gunfight
At least three militants were believed to have escaped after the initial firefight, which left a subedar-major of army wounded. He was shifted to army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar for treatment.
As soon as the news of gunfight spread, the youth took to streets and clashed with the forces to disrupt the anti-militant operation. The forces fired live ammunition, pellets and tear gas into the protesters near the gunfight site, resulting in the death of a youth Umar Kumar of Pinjura and injuries to 30 others.
As youth continued to clash with the forces, two more trapped militants managed to escape from the cordoned off area, with the support of locals, said a source. He said that a top commander of the Hizb ul-Mujahideen, Zeenat ul Islam was also among the trapped militants.
But the forces continued to surround the village until wee hours of Thursday when the operation was called off.
Locals alleged that the forces destroyed two houses, including the one belonging to the father-in-law of Islam, during the searches.
Islam, who hails from Sugan village, has been active in the militant ranks since early 2015. He had escaped during a cordon-and-search operation near his native village at Dragad- Sugan on April 1 along with four of his associates in which seven Hizb militants were killed.