Srinagar: Top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Bashir Lashkari and another militant Azad Malik were killed on Saturday in a fire fight with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's southern Anantnag district.
During the fire fight which erupted in Anantnag's Brenti, Dialgam village, about 65-km from here, shortly after dawn following a cordon-and-search operations was launched by the security forces were also killed.
The police said that all the 17 civilians who were trapped in cluster of residential house where the militants took up positions were earlier "rescued."
Bashir Lashkari, allegedly involved in the killing of six policemen in the district’s Acchabal area on June 16, was among the two gunmen trapped in a private house at Brenti. Earlier reports had put the number of militants present in the house at four.
The security forces including Army, the J&K Police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) and the CRPF laid siege to the village following receiving information about the presence of militants, the police sources said.
The security forces had tightened the noose around Bashir Lashkari after the killing of six policemen including Station House Officer Feroz Ahmed Dar in an ambush at Tajwah, Acchabal.
The deadly attack at a vehicle in which the policemen were travelling through the area on the evening of June 16 had come hours after the security forces had eliminated the LeT’s district commander Junaid Matto along with another militant in a fire fight in neighbouring Arwani area. The security forces officials had termed the killing of policemen a "revenge act" and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice soon.
During Saturday’s cordon-and-search operation by the security forces a fire fight erupted between the two sides.
A 21-year-old local youth identified as Shadaab Ahmed, a resident of neighbouring Kulgam, was critically injured in the security forces’ action against surging crowds which while chanting pro-freedom slogans relocated to the encounter site in an attempt to help the holed up militants to escape.
Ahmed was rushed to Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
Over a dozen people were injured in the clashes which were going on as reports last came in. According to reports, three protesters sustained bullet and two others pellet wounds whereas the rest were injured in teargas shelling and cane-charge by the security forces.
Earlier a 44-year-old woman resident Tahira was critically injured after she was caught in the crossfire between the militants and the security forces. She was rushed to Anantnag’s district hospital where she succumbed, the police sources said.
The locals had alleged that the security forces were using some families as human shield and that they were not allowing the one in whose house the militants have been holed up to leave.
But the police officials strongly denied it and said that it were actually the militants who were using the civilians as human shield.
"All the 17 civilians who were trapped inside the premises where terrorists have been holed up have been rescued," said a security force official. He added that the operation against the militants was suspended briefly to enable the civilians to come out of the houses. "It has been resumed now," he said.
The authorities have snapped mobile internet services in Anantnag whereas strict security restrictions are being enforced in a 3-km radius area of the encounter site. The officials said that the mobile internet services were withdrawn to prevent the spreading of rumours by anti social elements through social media. The roads to Brenti-Dialgam have been sealed by the security forces, reports said.
Curfew-like restrictions are being enforced also in central Srinagar on the second consecutive day “as a precautionary measure” whereas life elsewhere in the Valley has been disrupted following a call by a traders’ body against the impending implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
A statement issued by the police here in the evening said that the second militant who was killed during the encounter was a Pakistani national Abu Maz.
The statement confirmed that Shadaab was among five civilians injured in the security forces' action against a stone-pelting crowd near the encounter site and that he died later....