Six militants of Zakir Musa-led Al Qaeda Kashmir cell Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind (AGH) including itsdeputy chief were killed in an encounter with forces at Arampora village of Awantipora in Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday.
A police spokesperson said a joint party of police, CRPF and army cordoned off Arampora area of Awantipora in Tral after receiving credible inputs about presence of militants there.
He said as troops were conducting searches, the search party came under fire from militants.
“The fire was returned by the troops, triggering a gunfight. In the ensuing gunfight six militants of AGH were killed,” the official said.
The deceased militants were identified as Soleha Muhammad Akhoon alias Rehan Khan son of Ghulam Mohammad Akhoon of Arampora village, Rasik Qadir Mir son of Ghulam Qadir Mir, Rouf Ahmad Mir son of Ghulam Nabi Mir, Umer Ramzan Mir son of Mohammad Ramzan Mir and Nadeem Ahmad Sofi son of Mohammad Muzaffar Sofi, all residents of Dadsara village of Tral and Faisal Javid Khanday son of Javid Ahmad Khanday resident of Amlar village Tral.
Local residents said forces cordoned off a spot in Arampora village apple orchards along Awantipora-Khodpora road and fired many shots towards the spot.
“Militants were hiding in a hideout, which was dug at the base of around 12 feet deep ravine,” they said.
They said they found bloodstains in apple orchards around the cave, suggesting they were killed outside the hide.
After performing legal-medico formalities, bodies were handed to heirs for burial.
Thousands of people attended the funeral prayers of deceased militants in their native villages.
After multiple funerals, the deceased militants were laid to rest amid pro-freedom, pro-Islamic and pro-Zakir Musa slogans.
Of the deceased militant Soleha Mohammad Akhoon alias Rehaan Khan was deputy chief of AGH, who had joined militant ranks on March 17, 2015.
One of his relative said he was recruited by Zakir Musa and was his close associate. “When Zakir rebelled against HM to float his AGH, Soleha was the first to join him and became his deputy chief.”
Son of a revenue department employee, Soleha is survived by two younger siblings including brother and sister.
He was a class 12th drop-out
Faisal had joined AGH seven months ago, his uncle said.
“Faisal was injured in Saimoo village of Tral during clashes after the killing of HM commander Sabzar Ahmad Bhat. He had sustained bullet injury in abdomen in forces firing on protestors during the clashes,” he said.
He had a diploma in civil engineering from Government polytechnic College, Kulgam and is survived by two siblings, besides parents.
The deceased had left a will that no female should kiss his body.
After the encounter started, authorities snapped mobile internet services in south Kashmir and suspended train service.