A civilian was killed and over a dozen injured in clashes following an encounter in south Kashmir’s Tral area in which three militants were killed when the Army, Police and the CRPF launched a cordon and search operation in Gulab bagh locality. Police claim that all the three militants belong to group led by Zakir Musa, who was recently nominated as head of an al Qaeda affiliate, Ghazwatul Hind.
Locals said that a group of militants were sitting at in an open area at Gulab bagh five kilometers from Awantipore when Army, Police and the CRPF cordoned the area. After the militants were spotted, the Army and militants exchanged fire in which three militants were killed. Sources said that some militants managed to escape. The militants who were killed have been identified as Zahid Ahmad Bhat of Nowdal, Mohammad Ishaq Bhat of Batagund and Mohammad Ashraf Dar of Pulwama. While Zahid and Ishaq had joined militant ranks in 2015, Dar had joined militancy last year.
Protests erupted in the area after the encounter in which CRPF fired pellets on the protesters in which over a dozen civilians were injured. A civilian, Mohammad Younis Sheikh, 16, of Saimoh Tral who was injured in the protests. He was sent to a Srinagar hospital where doctors declared him brought dead. “Sheikh had pellet injuries in the chest and was brought dead to the hospital,’’ Director General of Police, S P Vaid said the militants belonged to Zakir Musa group active in the area. “The encounter took place in an open area, there was some law and order problem in which 300-400 protesters were pelting stones on the CRPF camp, they had no option but to retaliate.’’
Hizbul Mujahideen spokesperson Burhanudin told local news agency that three youth who were part of “so called” Zakir Musa group were on their way to rejoin Hizbul Mujahideen when they got killed. Nineteen militants, two Army personnel and four civilians have been killed in the Valley since July 30.