Six militants, including a top Jaish-e-Mohammad commander, as well as a soldier and a civilian were killed and four others injured in three gunfights between security forces and militants across the Kashmir Valley on Thursday.
In the first gunfight in Dalipora village of Pulwama district, three Jaish militants, including a top commander who had masterminded the 2017 attack on a CRPF camp, a soldier and a civilian were killed, police said.
“The slain militants have been identified as two locals, Naseer Pandit and Umar Mir and Pakistani national Khalid Bhai. Khalid was a top JeM commander and had masterminded the 2017 attack on the CRPF camp in Lethpora in which five troopers were killed,” a police source said.
The civilian victim was identified as Rayees Ahmad Dar, son of the owner of the house where the militants were hiding. His brother, Muhammad Younis, sustained a gunshot injury.
According to the sources, two soldiers were also injured in the exchange of firing.
Giving details of the gunfight, a police statement said: “On a credible input, a cordon and search operation was launched today morning by police and security forces at Dalipora area.
“As police and security forces were evacuating civilians from the neighbourhood around the target house, the hiding terrorists fired indiscriminately. In the process, one Army jawan, Sepoy Sandeep attained martyrdom and one civilian Rayees Dar also lost his life.”
Security forces retaliated, killing three militants whose bodies were retrieved from the site, it said.
“They were identified as Naseer Pandit of Kareemabad, Pulwama, Umar Mir of Shopian and from the incriminating material recovered from the site of encounter, one terrorist has been identified as a Pakistani, namely Khalid.
“According to police records, the killed terrorists were affiliated with proscribed terror outfit JeM,” it said.
The statement said that Khalid, “who was operating as commander of proscribed terror outfit JeM was involved in several terror attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities in the area. Many terror crime cases were registered against him”.
Amid massive clashes near the gunfight site and adjoining areas, authorities imposed curfew in Pulwama town and suspended mobile internet services. Mobile internet speed was also reduced in Srinagar city to prevent uploading of inflammatory pictures and posts.
In another gunfight in Handew village of Shopian district, three militants were killed while a soldier was injured. Police said firing exchanges have stopped but the search operation is still going on.
“Bodies of the slain militants have been recovered. Their exact identities and group affiliation are being ascertained,” police said.
Following specific information about the presence of militants, troops of the army’s counter-insurgency Rashtriya Rifles and the Special Operations Group of the state police launched a cordon and search operation in Handew village, but came under fire from the hiding militants and retaliated.
The third gunfight took place in Kandi forest area of Kupwara district.
Security forces surrounded the forest area after intelligence inputs about the presence of a group of militants there.
Police said a brief shootout took place in Kandi forest area, but there was no report of any casualty.