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Four Militants Killed in Kashmir Encounter, 3 Army Personnel Die on Way After Vehicle Overturns

Anees Zargar |
All the militants killed in the gunfight were local recruits who joined the militant ranks recently and may have been involved in the spate of non-local civilian attacks that shook the valley in past months.
Four Militants Killed in Kashmir Encounter, 3 Army Personnel Die on Way After Vehicle Overturns

Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: Four Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit militants were killed in South Kashmir after an encounter broke out in Badigam village of Zainpora area of Shopian district on Thursday. Officials said that three Indian Army personnel were killed in an accident close to the encounter site.

According to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar, the slain militants were active in Shopian and adjacent areas of Pulwama and were involved in six militancy cases, including attacks on non-local labourers.

The senior police officer said a 12-bore rifle snatched from a bank guard in the Murran area of Pulwama earlier this year was also recovered from the encounter site.

As the military operation was underway, three Army personnel were killed. Five soldiers were left injured after a vehicle they were travelling in met with an accident near Kanipora village, the Srinagar based PRO (Defence) Emron Mosavi said.

“Owing to the wet road conditions, the driver seemingly lost control over the vehicle, and it skidded off the road. The eight injured soldiers were shifted to District Hospital Shopian, where two among them were declared dead," the official said.

The army personnel, the police said, belonged to the 44 RR of the Indian Army from Chowgam camp and were on their way towards the encounter site before they met with the accident.

“One soldier had received minor injuries and was discharged from District Hospital. The five other injured soldiers were evacuated to 92 Base Hospital, Srinagar, wherein the third soldier also succumbed to his injuries. Four soldiers are presently at the 92 Base Hospital and are being treated," he added.

All the militants killed in the gunfight were local recruits who had joined the militant ranks recently. The senior police official added that a search operation had been launched against their militant associates, one of them identified as Aijaz of Pulwama.

Police identified the slain militants as Showkeen Ahmad Thoker, Farooq Ahmed Bhat – both residents of Sugan village of Shopian – Aqib Ahmad Thoker and Waseem Ahamad Thoker, who were residents of Heffkhuri village of Shopian.

Heffkhuri and Sugan villages are close to each other, and all four slain militants had joined militants' ranks recently, the police said. Aqib and Farooq went missing on March 10 and March 17, respectively, while Wasim went missing on April 9 and Showkeen joined militancy on April 3 this year.

Less than 100 militants are active in South Kashmir villages as local recruitments fell significantly since last year. As many as 54 militants have been killed since January this year, mostly in the southern villages of Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam. However, despite lower numbers, there have been continued systematic attacks, especially on non-local civilians.

The encounter in Shopian is the second operation against militants in South Kashmir this week and comes a day after suspected militants shot dead a civilian, Satish Kumar Singh, at Kakran village of Kulgam district, the latest in the series of target attacks against non-locals in the region.

The attack on Singh, which locals widely condemned, is the fifth such incident within a month. At least seven persons were grievously injured, indicating an uptick in violence in the valley.

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