Two suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed in a three-day-long encounter in south Kashmir’s Arwani village, police said. The Army, however, claimed that three militants were killed.
The encounter, conducted by the Army, Special Operations Group of J&K Police and CRPF three km from Bijbehara town in Anantnag district, ended on Friday.
One civilian was killed during the operation, while more than three dozen villagers were injured when protesters tried to break the cordon around the village.
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A police spokesman said that the operation was launched on Wednesday after receiving information about the presence of militants in the house of one Mushtaq Ahmad Ganie. “As per the information, Ganie works as an over-ground worker of Lashkar. He harboured militants in his house and provided them logistical support. The house was cordoned off. When security forces entered the house, militants fired at them. The forces retaliated.”
The spokesman said the operation concluded on Friday, when a joint team of the police and CRPF’s Quick Action Team stormed the house. “The bodies of two militants and three AK rifles were recovered. DNA samples have been collected for identification,” he said. An Army spokesman, however, said that three militants were killed.
Special Director General, CRPF North Zone S Shrivastava said the suspected militants were Majid Zarger and Ruhil Amin Dar.
The body of Zarger (20) was buried at Qaimoh village in Kulgam district. Sources said he was the Lashkar commander for south Kashmir, and had been active in the region for four years. The National Investigative Agency had announced a cash prize for Zarger, who was allegedly one of conspirators in the Udhampur attack last year.
Dar was a resident of Vesu Qazigund in south Kashmir. Sources said he was heading the Anantnag unit of Lashkar, and was also suspected to be involved in many militant attacks in south Kashmir.
Arif Ahmad Shah, a civilian from Gund-baba Sangam, was hit by a bullet during the encounter on Thursday. Locals alleged that he was killed when security forces opened fire on protesting villagers. The police, however said Shah was hit by a “stray bullet”.
Meanwhile, police have decided to freeze the bank accounts and seize the land of Gania, who allegedly harboured militants in his house at Arwani in south Kashmir. Gania is absconding and efforts are on to trace him.