Five persons, including an army man and three militants including an ex-SPO were killed in two separate gunfights in Valley while army men shot dead a civilian during ambush in border district of Kupwara.
Police, CRPF and army men launched Cordon and Search operations (CASO) at Gasigund Mehmoodabad area in Dooru area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district early in the morning after receiving inputs about presence of militants there.
As the searches were going on, hiding militants fired on the forces leading to an intense exchange of gunfire in which a local Lashkar militant Asif Malik was killed.
Sources said another militant managed to escape during the gunfight.
Police said Malik was operating as commander of Lashkar-e-toiba and was since September 2017.
“Incriminating material including arms and ammunition was recovered from the site of gunfight,” a police spokesman said.
Sources said three Army men were also injured in the gunfight and they were evacuated to army hospital, Srinagar where one of the critically injured trooper Happy Singh of 19 RR succumbed to injuries.
Two other injured army men undergoing treatment in the hospital have been identified as Bupinder Singh and Kulwant Singh.
Meanwhile, shutdown was observed in Verinag and Dooru towns while a partial shutdown was also observed in Anantnag main town.
Later, thousands of people thronged Khahgund Verinag, the native place of slain Malik, to participate in his funeral prayers.
Witnesses said two back-to-back funeral prayers were offered amid intense pro-freedom, pro-militant and pro-Pakistan slogans.
They said two militants also appeared at slain militant’s funeral and offered a gun salute.
The stray incidents of stone pelting were reported from several areas of Anantnag town.
Meanwhile, two militants were killed in a gunfight with forces at Panzan village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district today.
A police official said a joint team of Special Operations Group (SOG) of Police and army launched a cordon and search operation following inputs about presence of militants at Panzan village.
He said the CASO turned into a gunfight after militants fired towards forces.
The militants were killed in Jamia Masjid, which sustained mild damage during the gunfight.
Police identified the deceased militants as Sheeraz Ahmad Bhat of Kralwari Chadoora and Irfan Ahmad Dar of Lulipora, Kakapora in Pulwama.
“Both were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen. Dar had worked as Special Police Officer (SPO). He had, however, deserted police force a couple of months ago and joined militant ranks,” a police spokesman.
He said local auqaf committee was engaged to convince the militants to come out. “However, militants turned down the offer and consequently the operation had to be carried out in a deliberate manner keeping in view the sanctity of the mosque”.
During the gunfight, he said, a trooper was also injured and he was evacuated to hospital.
“Investigation has been initiated in all the cases,” the police spokesman said.
The civilians also clashed with forces near the gunfight site soon after the firefight ensued.
The forces fired tear smoke shells and pellets to disperse the protestors, who tried to march towards the encounter site.
Over two dozen civilians sustained injuries in the forces action.
Thousands of people participated in the funeral prayers of Dar and Bhat at their native villages.
Meanwhile, a non-local was killed in an army firing during an ambush at Kralpora area of Kupwara district.
Police sources said army men had laid an ambush at Sayedaan Pathra Kakva Gali of Kralpora area.
They said a non-local, seemingly from outside state, passed through the area and was killed in army firing.
Superintended of Police Kupwara, Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar told Rising Kashmir that police was ascertaining circumstances of incident.
“He was killed in Army ambush. We are ascertaining the circumstance of his presence in the area,” he said.
Ambarkar said police was ascertaining the actual details of the deceased.
Meanwhile, mobile internet service in Srinagar, Budgam and Anantnag districts was suspended by authorities for security reasons in Kashmir today.
The low speed mobile internet service was restored in the evening.
Officials said the train service between Banihal and Baramulla was also suspended in view of the prevailing situation.
“We received an advisory from authorities to suspend train service,” a railway official told Rising Kashmir.