By News Desk | Tral, Kashmir
An engineering graduate turned militant was killed on Friday in a fierce gunfight at Buchoo village of Tral, 40 kilometers south of Kashmir’s summer capital, Srinagar. At least four army personnel were also killed in the gun battle, according to the Indian army. However, the militant outfit has claimed that five army personnel were killed and seven were injured.
The encounter that lasted several hours began at 3 am in the morning when the 42 Rashtriya Rifles along with the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir police cordoned off the village to nab the suspected militants who were believed to be hiding in village, according to the Indian forces.
“A local unit of Rashtriya Rifles had a tip of some militants hiding in the village following which they cordoned off the area and began search operation,” said the Srinagar based Defence PRO, Col. Naresh Shuhab.
“We cordoned off the area and began search operations, during which our party came under heavy fire from militants hiding in nearby forest, resulting in the on spot death of three jawans whereas one more jawan later died in the hospital,” he said.
The PRO also confirmed the identity of the slain army personnel as Sipahi Dalbeer Singh, Sipahi Ashwin Kumar, Rifleman Ajeet Singh and Hawaldar Kamal Jeet.
The killed militant has been identified as a 21-year-old Saif Ullah Ahanger alias Burhan son of Mohammad Rafiq Ahanger from Hariparigam Tral.
Sources said that Ahanger joined Hizbul Mujahideen four months ago. Locals in his native village said that he was an engineering graduate who had qualified B. Tech. from SSM College of Parihaspora, North Kashmir.
A police official at the spot, on anonymity, said that the militants decamped with 3 service rifles of the slain personnel also and the militants were wearing army uniform. “However, they left a service SLR on the spot, which the police said was taken away by militants last year in an encounter,” he said.
While as the Defence PRO denied that the militants snatched rifles from the army personnel.
Soon after the encounter, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir zone) A. G. Mir along with GOC Victor Force Gurdeep Singh and other senior police and army officers rushed to the spot to access the situation, whereas more troops belonging to 3 and 42 RR, 85 battalion CRPF and the district police along with SOG were dispatched to the area to intensify the search operations.
The body of the militant was later handed over to the relatives in the evening.
Meanwhile, the militant outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed the responsibility telling a local news agency that the operation was carried out by a five member squad of the outfit among whom, four have reached to their hideouts safely.
“This was a five member guerrilla squad who killed 5 army men and wounded 7. We also lost one Mujahid,” the outfit spokesman, Baleg ud Din told the news agency over phone. He also paid tributes on behalf of the outfit supremo and the operational commander to Saif Ullah Ahanger and Molvi Hilal.
The journalists who arrived at the spot to cover the gun battle were not allowed to go ahead and were stopped two kilometers away from the spot.