Srinagar: Three militants have been killed in South Kashmir’s Sheikhpora village of Kokernag area after security forces including the police, the army and paramilitary CRPF launched a joint operation on Tuesday early morning.
This is the second operation against militants since last week in the region grappling with a fresh wave of surge in Coronavirus cases. The number of deaths have also spiked. Moreover, health experts have warned that the situation could stretch to catastrophic levels in the coming days.
A police spokesperson said that the operation began at about 4 am as forces cordoned off the Sheikhpora village in Vailoo locality. The police said that the militants were asked to surrender but they refused to do so and instead, fired at the surrounding forces.
“The joint teams also rescued all the civilians trapped in the gunfire and halted the operation for the time to ensure safety and safe evacuation of people from the area of gunfight,” a police statement read.
The police identified the slain militants as Ilyas Ahmad Dar, a resident of Danwathpora village of Kokernag, Ubaid Shafi alias Abdullah, a resident of Batamaloo locality of Srinagar city and Aqib Ahmad Lone, a resident of Khandaypora village of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district. The police have retrieved the bodies of all three militants who are likely to be buried in far-flung area of North Kashmir to avoid any funeral gatherings as a part ofthe security establishment’s Covid-19 protocol.
The three men, according to the police, were part of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit. But the newly created The Resistance Front (TRF) have also claimed the three militants as their own, according to an unverified online statement.
Srinagar’s Ubaid, who had joined the militant ranks in October last year, was believed to be involved in an attack at the residence of a Bharatiya Janata Party member in Srinagar outskirts on April 1. In the attack, a policeman named Rameez Ahmad was killed. Ubaid was also in the list of wanted militants from Srinagar as publicised by the police earlier in March.
The region is under a lockdown but there has been no let up in the counter-insurgency operations against militants. Around 51 militants have been killed in the region so far this year, a majority of them in the vicinity of South Kashmir’s Shopian and Anantnag areas including six of them so far in May. Last year, according to the official figures, 225 militants were killed in over 103 operations, many of them during the Covid outbreak.
Meanwhile, since April 1, the number of active Covid cases witnessed a sudden surge from around 3,000 cases per day to about 49,951 cases on May 10. The union territory also recorded a single day death of around 56 patients--17 of them in Kashmir valley. Amidst this, the dearth of Covid-19 related medicines like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, oxygen supply and equipment such as high mask and flow meters has compounded fear and uncertainty among the locals.