Srinagar: Irate crowds clashed with riot police in various areas of Jammu and Kashmir’s southern Pulwama district on Saturday, leaving over twenty people injured.
The clashes erupted amid a spontaneous strike following the killing of three militants of indigenous Hizb-ul-Mujahedin outfit during an overnight encounter with security forces in the district’s Panzgam area.
Officials said the slain men Ashfaq Ahmed Dar, Ishfaq Ahmed Baba and Haseebullah Pahlla figured in the list of most wanted militants by security forces.
They added that in their killing the security forces have achieved a major breakthrough against the Hizb deeply entrenched in Pulwama and neighbouring districts.
“Continuing with the recent successes against the terrorists by the security forces in south Kashmir area, three top terrorists were gunned down in a swift encounter in Dogirpura village near Panzgam of Pulwama,” a defence spokesman said here.
Reports said that police and CRPF fired teargas canisters and pellet guns to quell stone-throwing mobs at various places in Pulwama including the district headquarters.
Six of the seriously injured protesters have been brought to Srinagar for specialized treatment, police and hospital sources said.
Police said several of its men also sustained injuries in daylong stone-pelting incidents.
Earlier, rail services through Pulwama were suspended and mobile Internet services withdrawn “as a precautionary measure” in view of heightening tensions.
Defence spokesman Lt. Col. N.N. Joshi said that the operation against militants was launched late Friday night on specific intelligence about their presence in Dogirpura village.
Reports said that J&K police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) along with Army’s 55 Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF’s 185 battalion laid siege to the village around 10.30 pm on Friday and as they zeroed in on a private house owned by one Dawood Ahmed Wagay they came under rifle fire from militants hiding in the premises.
The holed up militants also hurled grenades towards security forces in a failed attempt to flee from the besieged house.
At 3.30 am on Saturday, the security forces blew up the house using explosives and with that the firing from holed up militants stopped.
With first light a mopping-up operation was launched during which the corpses of three militants were retrieved from under the debris along with 3 AK assault rifles, six magazines and 85 rounds of ammunition, officials said.
Later during the day when the security forces had left the scene of encounter, an unexploded grenade went off seriously injuring 18-year-old Waqas Ahmed Wagay among residents who had gathered there, witnesses said.
Later thousands of mourners attended the funerals of slain militants in their ancestral villages amid chanting of pro-freedom and anti India slogans, reports said....