Four terrorists killed in Anantnag, Shopian encounters


Ultras gun down civilian in Budgam


Srinagar: While four terrorists from Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and al-Badr outfits, including those involved in the killing of an off-duty Territorial Army soldier in Anantnag the other day, were gunned down on Sunday in two encounters with security forces, the ultras gunned down a civilian in Budgam, police said.
With the killing of four terrorists, the death toll in the encounters that began on Saturday in Anantnag and Shopian has climbed to five as one ultra was killed in the initial exchange of fire.
Towseef Ahmad Bhat and Aamir Hussain Ganie, both from Bijbehara and linked to the LeT, were killed at village Semthan in the Bijbehara area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district after they refused to surrender and fired indiscriminately on a search party, the police said.
Both of them were wanted in many terror crimes including the killing of an off-duty Territorial Army soldier Mohammad Saleem Akhoon near his home in Goriwan Bijbehara on Friday. They were also wanted in the case of an attack on a CRPF party in which a CRPF jawan was killed, an official said.
The security forces rescued all the civilians trapped in the area and halted the operation for the night, he added. In the wee hours, the operation was resumed and both the militants were eliminated, the official said.
The ultras were also involved in threatening and intimidating the civilian population of the area and enticing young boys to join terror ranks, he said.
According to police records, Bhat was active since 2017 and Ganie had joined the militant ranks in the year 2018.
Terrorists responsible for the killing of Army jawan have been neutralised within two days in Bijbehara encounter, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said.
Arms and ammunition, including two AK series rifles, were recovered from the site.
The IGP said one of the slain militants in the Shopian encounter was newly recruited into the militant ranks and security forces made sincere efforts to persuade him to surrender, but the other militants did not allow him.
“Parents also made appeals, but other terrorists didn’t let him surrender,” Kumar said.
He identified the slain terrorists as Aasif Ahmad Ganai and Faisal Gulzar Ganai — both residents of Chitragam Kalan. The identity of the third terrorist is yet to be ascertained.
Police sources said Faisal was a minor and had recently joined the militant ranks.
Giving details of the operation, the police official said security forces launched the cordon and search operation in the orchards of Reban Bandpawa area after receiving specific input about the presence of militants there.
He said the terrorists were given an opportunity to surrender. However, they fired indiscriminately upon the search party of the forces.
In the initial retaliatory firing, one terrorist was killed. But the operation was suspended to give the trapped ultras another chance to surrender, the official said.
The forces exercised maximum restraint and facilitated the presence of family members of a holed-up terrorist Faisal Gulzar to the encounter site to persuade him to surrender, the IGP said.
However, despite repeated appeals by his family members and assurances by the security forces, the other terrorists did not let him surrender, the official said.
During a fierce gunfight in the early hours, both the trapped terrorists were killed and the bodies of all three were recovered from the site of the encounter, he said.
As per police records, they were part of groups involved in many terror crime cases and linked with proscribed terror outfit Al-Badr, he said.
Arms and ammunition, including an AK-56 rifle and two pistols, besides other incriminating material, were recovered from the site of the encounter.
Meanwhile, terrorists shot dead a civilian in the Budgam district this afternoon, police said.
The ultras fired on Nasir Khan near his residence in Buchipora in the Magam area of the central Kashmir district, a police official said.
He said Khan was rushed to a hospital, where he succumbed to the injuries.
The area has been cordoned off and a manhunt has been launched to nab the attackers, the official said.
Further details are awaited.