- Slain militants were part of Zakir Musa group: Police
- They were on way to rejoin us: Hizb
Three militants were killed in a brief gunfight and a civilian died of pellet injuries in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district Wednesday afternoon.
The three militants killed during the encounter in Gulab Bagh area of Tral in Pulwama have been identified as Zahid Ahmad Bhat of Nowdal Tral, Mohammad Ishaq Bhat of Batagund Tral and Mohammad Ashraf Dar of Baghi Trich, Pulwama. According to police, they belonged to Zakir Musa group.
“Police along with 42 RR, 180 BN CRPF launched a cordon and search operation in Gulab Bagh area after receiving inputs about presence of militants there. In the ensuing encounter, three militants were killed,” polices spokesman said.
The militant deaths sparked clashes between government forces and protesters in Tral and Pulwama towns. In Nawdal area of Tral township, a 16-year-old boy Muhammad Younis Sheikh was hit by pellets in the chest. Younis, a resident of Soimoh Tral, was shifted to SMHS hospital Srinagar where he was declared brought dead.
Authorities suspended mobile internet and telephone connectivity in Pulwama district. Only the government-run BSNL services were working.
According to a statement issued by police, Ishaq Bhat was involved in firing upon police personnel HC Ab Gani Bhat resulting in his grievous injuries. “He was also involved in capturing the thrashing and torturing of some SPOs on camera and circulated the same on social media.”
Zahid Rashid Bhat was involved in hurling grenade on CRPF men which resulted in injuries to one CRPF personnel. “Both Ishaq and Zahid were also involved in firing incident at Tral-i-Payeen Bazaar resulting in injuries to 3 persons and firing incident at T-Chowk, Tral. They were also involved in various grenade attacks in South Kashmir,” the statement added.
“After the encounter a huge mob pelted stones upon a camp. During law and order situation, one person sustained pellet injuries and later on succumbed to his injuries.”
Two AK 47 rifles and one pistol were seized from the encounter site, as per police statement.
Meanwhile, Hizbul Mujahideen issued a statement after the killing of the militants. While paying tributes to the deceased militants, Hizb spokesman claimed that the killed militants were on way to re-join Hizb.
“Zahid Ahmed, Ishfaq Ahmed and Muhammad Ashraf who were part of the so-called Zakir Musa group were coming back to join Hizbul Mujahdeen and got killed in a gunfight on way,” local news gathering agency, CNS quoted Hizb spokesperson, Burhanuddin saying.
He added that Hizb Chief Syed Salahuddin and Deputy Saifullah Khalid have paid rich tributes to the trio. “Operational Commander Field Mehmood Ghaznavi in his message to the militants who are part of so called Ansar-Gazwatul Hind has said that the doors of Hizbul Mujahideen are always open for them,” said Burhanuddin.
He also said that Ansar-Gazwatul Hind, which is headed by Zakir Musa, has been created to divide Kashmiri nation. “We will issue a detailed statement in this regard and also expose the elements behind this conspiracy,” Burhanuddin said.