Five militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen were killed in a gunfight with forces at Chowgam village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Saturday while a youth died and 20 others sustained injuries in forces firing during clashes near the encounter site.
A police official said 9 RR, CRPF and SOG men laid siege around Matipora Chowgam area of Kulgam district last night after receiving inputs about presence of militants there.
He said as the forces launched the search operation, the militants hiding in a house fired on them.
“The fire was returned by troops, triggering a gunfight,” he said.
The locals said as the gunfight raged, forces blasted the house by planting Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the house in the morning.
After the blast, bodies of five militants were pulled out of the rubble.
A police official said operation was called off after bodies of five militants were recovered. “Arms and ammunition were also recovered from the encounter site”.
He said the deceased militants belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.
The deceased militants were identified as Gulzar Ahmad Padder alias Saif R/o Adijan Kulgam, Faisal Ahmad Rather alias Dawood R/o Yamrach Kulgam, Zahid Ahmad Mir alias Hashim R/o Okey Kulgam, Masroor Molvi alias Abu Darda R/o Fatehpora Anantnag and Zahoor Ahmad Lone alias Rehman Bhai R/o Nagnad Noorabad Damhal Hanjipora.
A police spokesman said Gulzar Paddar was top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Gulzar, who was close associate of slain HM commander Altaf Kachroo, was involved in series of attacks including killing of five police men and two bank employees at Pambay last year. He was also involved in killings of SPO, looting police guards at Damhaal and weapon snatching cases in Kulgam,” he said.
The spokesman said Zahid of Okey village was wanted for his involvement in killing of policeman Fayaz Ahmad of Zainapora on Eid.
“Faisal was involved in killing of Policeman Gowhar Ahmad. Zahoor @ Rehman and Mansoor were involved in series of militant offences besides recruitment bid in the locality,” he said.
As the encounter started, authorities snapped the mobile internet services in twin districts of Anantnag and Kulgam. The train services to south Kashmir region was also suspended for the day.
Meanwhile, clashes erupted between local youth and force personnel near the encounter site after the encounter was over.
The force personnel fired bullets, pellets and tear smoke shells to disperse the youth, who pelted stones on them.
At least 25 people sustained injuries in forces action. Three had bullet injuries while others had pellet injuries.
A health official said the injured were treated at Emergency hospital Qazigund, District hospital Anantnag and district hospital Kulgam.
He said five injured were referred to Srinagar hospitals from district hospital Anantnag.
One of the critically injured identified as Rouf Ahmad Ganai son of Abdul Salam Ganai R/o Al Farooq Colony, Anchidora Anantnag, who had sustained bullet injury in throat, died while being shifted to Srinagar hospital.
A complete shutdown was observed in most parts of twin districts of Kulgam and Anantnag.
Thousands of people thronged the native villages of slain militants to participate in the funeral prayers.
The militants were laid to rest amid intense pro-freedom, pro-Pakistan and anti-Indi