Inspector-General of Police Kashmir range Vijay Kumar Monday said that four Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed in a nocturnal gunfight at Imamsahib area of Shopian in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, and with the killing of four militants, 19 militants including two top commanders were killed since January this year.
Addressing a press conference at the police control room here, the IGP Kashmir said that acting on a tip-off, joint teams of army, police and the CRPF laid a siege at Imam Sahib area of Shopian. “When the suspected house was zeroed in, the militants fired indiscriminately triggering a gunfight. We brought family members of the trapped militants and even at 2 am, repeated surrender offers were made. The militants turned down the offer and fired at forces in which one forces personnel sustained bullet injury,” the Kashmir police chief said as per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO)
He said that in the ensuing gunfight, four militants were killed. “Some reports suggested that they belong to TRF, but for us TRF and Lashkar-e-Mustafa the fake names and are off shoots of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. All four slain militants belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba and have been identified as Rayees Ahmed, who was active since October last year, Amir Mir who joined militancy in February this year, Raqib Malik who picked up arms in December last year and Aftab Wani, who joined militancy in November last year,” the IGP said.
He said this year so far nine gunfight have taken place of which only one was witnessed in north Kashmir. “In nine gunfights, 19 militants were killed of which nine were killed in Shopian district alone. Among the killed were two top commanders that include Gani Khawja from north Kashmir and Sajad Afghani from South Kashmir,” the IGP said.
He said that this year so far 18 youth joined militancy of which five were killed and three arrested and rest are active. “Those active are being reached out and are being urged to return to mainstream,” the IGP Kashmir said.
He said that Standard operating Procedure (SoP) is being followed that entails offering surrender to local militants even during live encounters. “Government forces are dealing with the anti-militancy operations professionally,” the IGP said. “In all these gunfights, no civilian was killed. We lost four forces personnel including a solider, a cop in Budgam, and two policemen in Barzulla, Srinagar.” He said that in today’s gunfight a soldier was injured, who is stable.
General officer commanding (GoC) Victor Force Rashim Bali who was also at the presser said that army’s 44 RR reached out to the parents and even to the wife and 4-year-old son of a militant Raqib. “But they refused to surrender. This is why the operation got delayed, otherwise, it wouldn’t have last even for half an hour,” the GoC said.
“We even brought brother-in-law of Raqib to the gunfight site, but still he didn’t surrender.” The GoC reiterated that the army is ready to facilitate the surrender by local boys holding guns even at the last minute. “Our one trooper received bullet injury in a bid to try whether the militants may surrender,” he said.
Replying to a query that residential houses are getting damaged in gunfights, he said that the forces are working professionally and at times houses where militants are hiding, catch fire due to the congested localities. “Recently, militants were caught in a concrete house, that was connected with two more houses. They shifted from one house to another. In some cases, militants themselves torch the houses in a bid to flee,” the GoC said. (KNO)