36 Hours Later, Encounter That Killed 8 Declared Over

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SRINAGAR: The two-day long encounter between militants and the joint team of police, CRPF and army in the orchards of Kreeri Baramulla ended on Tuesday, consuming eight lives in all—three of them militants including top Lashkar-e-Toiba commanders, two army soldiers, as many paramilitary CRPF men besides an SPO.

Army Personnel near the site of an encounter in Kreeri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla on Tuesday, August 18, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

A top police officer said that the ongoing operation since yesterday morning at Kariri Baramulla concluded after about 36 hours with the killing of 3rd most wanted and LET commander Usman Bhai of Pakistan who was involved in the killing of Bjp leader Wasim Bari his father and brother at Bandipora on July 8, 2020.

“He was an accomplice of Sajad @ Hyder of Sopore who was responsible for killings and attacks on security forces apart from the radicalisation of local youth and their joining militant ranks over the past one year. He was wanted in a large number of crimes and active in north Kashmir for the past many years,” said the officer.

Also, one among the two soldiers succumbed to the injuries, taking the fatality toll of soldiers in the gunfight to two.

“Two soldiers who were critically injured succumbed to their injuries,” news agency GNS quoted defense ministry spokesman Lt. Col Rajesh Kalai as saying. He said two AK rifles and three Pistols were recovered from the encounter site.

The encounter had ensued after a joint team of Police, CRPF and army launched a cordon-and-search-operation following the attack in the morning in which two CRPF men and an SPO were killed.

“At about 0915hrs on Monday, (militants)fired indiscriminately upon a joint naka party of Police and security forces from nearby orchards at Nawan mode Kreeri area of Baramulla,” a police spokesperson said. In the militant attack, he said, two CRPF personnel of 119 battalion and a police personnel(SPO)  sustained grievous gunshot injuries. “The injured were evacuated to nearby hospital for the treatment of their injuries. However, all the three injured personnel succumbed to their injuries”. They were identified as SPO Muzaffar Ali of District Police Baramulla, Constables Lokesh Sharma and Khurshid Khan of 119 batallion CRPF. “In the initial retaliatory firing one militant got injured.” He said the militants were engaged till the area was completely cordoned off with the help of reinforcement and the search operation was thereafter jointly launched by Police, 29RR and CRPF. “In the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed on Monday.”

Two Army personnel also sustained gunshot injuries and were shifted to hospital where one among them died yesterday.  The militants who were killed yesterday included Sajad Ahmad Mir alias Haider alias Jaja of Brath Kalan Sopore (LeT Chief of North Kashmir) and Anayatullah Mir of Andergam Pattan, affiliated with LeT.

Addressing reporters, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh rated Sajad among top ten militants in Kashmir and top most in north Kashmir.

“He had joined militancy in the 2016 winters and used to work on same pattern as that of Burhan Wani. He was active in north Kashmir. If Burhan Wani turned many to become militants in South Kashmir, he spared no efforts in north Kashmir. So far we have arrested at least 20 militants recruited by him apart from many Over Ground Workers(OGWs),” he had said.

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