SRINAGAR: The overnight gunfight between the militants and a mixed contingent of counter-insurgent forces has concluded with the killing of five militants. The slain five reportedly included top Hizb commander Gulzar Ahmad Padder.
Police have confirmed the recovery of three bodies from the debris of a house as the searches are still on.
The encounter started on basis of a specific information that a group of militants were seen in the Chowgam village near Qazigund. Around midnight, the village was cordoned off. Though the counter-insurgent forces were able to locate a house where militants were staying, they had problems in quick operation because of the presence of the civilians in the same house.
Police sources said they took some time in evacuating the civilians from the house and later a contact was established. During wee hours, they killed the five militants – one had come out of the house and was killed immediately and four others got killed when the house collapsed over them. The CI forces used a landmine in the operation, reports said.
Police sources said they had been able to identify one of the five militants – Gulzar Ahmad Padder, the top militant commander, who was from Damhal Hanjipora. Along with him, another militant from the same Damhal locality was also killed. Police sources said Padder had given them a slip in a recent operation in the same district.
There are three more militants, one each from an Anantnag village, Yaripora and Kulgam. They have not been identified so far. One militant has been identified as Zahoor. Police suspect some of the slain militants could be from Lashkar-e-Toiba but it was not immediately confirmed.
The firing has stopped after the major blast but the bodies have not been retrieved. Police said they are busy searching the debris. The operation was carried out by Special Operations Group (SOG) Kulgam, 9-Rashtriya Rifles and a unit of the CRPF.
Since the operation took place during the dead of the night there were no reports of any protest or stone pelting, reports said. Police have imposed restrictions under section 144 in the entire belt. Trains services to the south have been suspended.
A police officer said it was the same group that killed a cop of the day of Eid.
A police officer in Srinagar said so far they have the information about only three militants who were killed. During the room to room search, at least two militants were actually alive and this resumed the gun battle. “It is still going on,” the officer said. “There were five militants, we are sure and the three bodies are visible.” The officer said the renewed fire exchange of fire continued for a brief time.
Confirming that the encounter was over, a police officer said that the house of a soldier, Manzoor Ahmad Ganai was raised to the ground during the encounter. “There were reports of five militants in the house as per the sources but so far three dead bodies have been recovered,” the officer said. One slain militant is from Yamrach in Yaripora, and another from Fatehpora in Anantnag in addition to Padder. Two army personnel were reportedly injured in the encounter.
“Encounter going on in Chowgam Kulgam. Five terrorists are trapped. 3 reported to have been neutralized. Train services between Baramulla -Qazigund suspended. Police and Security Forces on the job,” Jammu and Kashmir police’s twitter handle said more than two hours back. “A huge success for Police and security forces. It was a combo of HM and LeT terrorists. Most of them were involved in a series of terror acts including the killing of 2 bank employees and many policemen. Also involved in bank robberies and weapon looting,” it added later.
Kashmir Life reported the killing of all the five militants because police sources said there has not been any response from the damaged house for more than an hour. They also said they have seen three of the slain boys. During the room to room search, however, two militants were alive and they opened fire. It led to another brief fire exchange. By now four weapons have been recovered and the operation is about to be formally declared over.
(Image used with this report is merely representational)