Early Saturday morning, as the forces zeroed in on a target house, the militants opened fire, triggering a gunfight. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)
The Jammu and Kashmir Police and Army killed five militants in a joint operation in south Kashmir Saturday. Later, a civilian was killed after the forces fired on youths protesting the killing of the militants.
J&K Police said the militants were involved in the killing of policemen in South Kashmir, and described the operation as a “huge success for the police and security forces”. The operation began Friday night, when a joint team of the police, Army and paramilitary forces cordoned off Chowgam village of Kulgam after inputs about the presence of militants.
Early Saturday morning, as the forces zeroed in on a target house, the militants opened fire, triggering a gunfight. The exchange of fire continued for several hours, and culminated in the killing of all five militants in the house. “A huge success for police and security forces,” J&K Police tweeted after the encounter. “It was a combo of HM (Hizbul Mujahideen) and LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) terrorists involved in a series of terror acts.”
Police have identified the killed militants as Gulzar Paddar, Zahid, Faisal, Zahoor and Masroor. Gulzar, police said, was a close associate of the slain Hizb commander Altaf Kachroo. Gulzar, who had joined the militant ranks two years ago, was involved in a series of terror acts, including the killing of five policemen last year, at Pombai, police said. They said he was also involved in the snatching of police weapons.
Police said that Zahid, a resident of Okey village of Kulgam, was involved in the killing of a policeman at Zainapora Shopian on Eid, while Faisal was involved in the killing of a policeman in Shopian last year.
Soon after the killing of the militants, people took to the streets in Chowgam and its adjoining villages, and clashed with police and paramilitary forces. A civilian was killed and over 20 were injured after the joint forces opened fire and fired pellets at the protesters. The slain youth has been identified as 24-year-old Rouf Ahmad, a resident of Anchidoora in Anantnag town. He was hit by a bullet in the neck. Rouf was killed at Chowgam some 17 kilometres from his home.
An official at Anantnag District Hospital told The Sunday Express that the hospital received 22 injured. “Three of them were hit by bullets out of which one succumbed,” the official said. “The others had pellet injuries. We referred some of them to Srinagar.”
Medical Superintendent of Shri Maharja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital in Srinagar Dr Saleem Tak told The Sunday Express that the hospital received eight injured.
The joint separatist leadership has called for a shutdown on Monday against the killing of the civilian.