Four rebels and a civilian, who the police said was an associate of the rebels, were killed in two gunfights in south Kashmir on Friday.
While two Hizbul Mujahideen rebels and a civilian were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Shopian district, two rebels were killed in an encounter in the Tral area of Pulwama district. They are believed to be associated with the Jaish-e-Mohammed and their identity is yet to be ascertained.
One of the rebels killed in the Shopian gun battle has been identified as Adil Manzoor Magray, alias Saju Tiger, a resident of Nowpora Payeen in Pulwama district. Magray was the commander of the outfit and was active for the last more than two years. He had managed to give security forces the slip during several anti-militancy operations.
The other slain rebel has been identified as Hilal Ahmad, a resident of Armulla, Pulwama. He had joined the Hizb last year.
The civilian killed during the gunfight has been identified as Jasim Ahmad Shah, a resident of the Sugan area in Shopian. The security forces launched the operation around 3 am in an orchard area of Dragad, Shopian.
“We had specific inputs regarding the movement of rebels in the area. Ambushes were laid at several places and our units waited for the rebels to move,” said a senior police officer from Shopian. He said the rebels were spotted around 4.30 am and were signalled to lay down arms.
“They, however, opened fire, which was duly retaliated,” the police officer said.
In the intermittent firing between 5 am and 12:45 pm, two rebels and a civilian were killed in Shopian.
“We have retrieved the bodies and along with them the arms and ammunition. While two of them have been identified as active rebels of the Hizb, the third one has been a long-term associate of the rebels and was accompanying them,” the police officer said.
Meanwhile, clashes erupted around the site of the gunfight. Hundreds of youth tried to march towards the encounter site but were dispersed by use of pellet guns and tear-smoke shells by security forces.
Several protesters were injured and were treated at local hospitals. The authorities snapped mobile Internet services in Shopian district.
The Pulwama gunfight erupted in Nanner village around 5 pm. Amid clashes, the gunfight continued for a couple of hours before the rebels were gunned down. Many civilians were injured in the clashes.“We have retrieved the bodies along with the arms and ammunition. Their identities and affiliations are being ascertained,” a police officer said.