Three Lashkar-e-Toiba militants and an army man were killed in the encounter at Bonigam area of Qazigund on Srinagar-Jammu highway in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district while the 4th militant, according to police, was arrested from a hospital.
Police sources said though the encounter ended last night after forces blasted the house where militants had taken shelter, the combing operation continued during the night.
“During the search operation, body of one more militant was recovered from the debris. With the recovery of militant’s body, three militants were killed in the encounter,” they said.
Defence spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said three militants were killed in the encounter and the operation was called off.
An army man was also killed and two troopers injured in the gunfight.
Commander 2-sector, Brigadier Sachin Malik identified the slain militants as Abu Furkan and Abu Maviya—both Pakistani nationals—and Yawar Bashir Wani of Hablish, Devsar in Kulgam district.
“All there were associated with LeT. Yawar and Maviya were directly involved in Amarnath yatra bus attack at Bantingo in July this year,” he told reporters at army’s 2-sector headquarters at Wukur in Qazigund.
The army officer said four militants including Abu Ismail, Maviya and Yawar were involved in attack on Amarnath yatris in July in which eight yatris were killed and 19 others injured.
“The fourth militant is Shakoor Ahmad Dar, who is still at large. But we will get him soon,” he claimed.
He said three AK-47 rifles and other ammunition were recovered from the possession of slain militants.
The army official said Furkan had replaced Ismail as divisional commander of LeT. Ismail was killed in an encounter with forces in Nowgam area in outskirts of Srinagar in September this year.
Brigadier Malik termed killing of militants as a “big blow” to Lashkar.
“Furkan was an A category militant and LeT’s divisional commander for south Kashmir while Abu Maviya and Yawar were A category militants. The forces have hit the militant leadership very hard,” he said.
Army and police claimed that a militant, who had managed to give slip to forces at the beginning of cordon yesterday, was arrested along with a pistol from a hospital in Anantnag.
“After pursuing the leads, Rashid Ahmed Allai son of Farooq Ahmed of Hamzapora Sangam, Bijibehera was arrested from Janglatmandi maternity Hospital with a Chinese pistol and live cartridges, yesterday night,” a police spokesman.
He said Rashid was missing since last two days from his house and had joined the Yawar group of LeT.
The spokesman said initial investigations reveal that Rashid was with the three militants and managed to escape from the Bonigam encounter site.
“Consequently, he took shelter at the hospital in Anantnag with the help of one of his associates. Rashid along with his associates were intending to snatch weapon from the policemen by attacking them. Further investigation is going on to unearth the conspiracy leading to the entire episode,” he added.
Police said the militant group besides being involved in Amarnath Yatra bus attack was also involved in attack on highway at Lower Munda, and attack on a police party at Bus stand Anantnag.
Brigadier Malik said two people were arrested from Anantnag hospital.
“One of them was involved in Bonigam operation,” he said.
Meanwhile, after the forces were withdrawing from the encounter site in Nusu Badragund and Bonigam villages in Qazigund area, youth took to roads and pelted stones on the force personnel.
The force personnel fired tear-gas shells to quell the protesters. In the forces action, two youth were injured and they were referred to Bone and Joint (B&J) Hospital, Srinagar.
One of the injured youth was identified as Manzoor Ahmad Magray son of Gulam Mohammad Magray of Lisser, Qazigund.
“Magray was hit by a bullet on a leg but was stable,” sources said.
Medical superintendent B&J Hospital, Dr A R Budoo said they received two injured persons.
“Both are stable now,” he said.
Reports said clashes between forces and youth also erupted in Vesu and Devsar areas.
Meanwhile, thousands of people attended multiple funeral prayers of slain militant Yawar amidst chanting of pro-freedom, pro-Islamic and anti-India slogans.
Yawar’s body was draped in green flag.
The traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway, which was suspended after gunfight yesterday, was restored today.
However, the rail and internet services remained suspended in Anantnag and Kulgam districts.