Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 25: Even as security forces suffered a major setback, losing three soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) in a fierce encounter with the infiltrating militants on the LoC in Tangdar area of Kupwara district on Monday, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba’s top wanted “District Commander” in South Kashmir, Ayatullah alias Khomeini, got killed in another gunbattle in Kulgam.
Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar told STATE TIMES that an Army patrol was ambushed by a group of heavily armed infiltrating militants around Darshak Post, on the LoC, in Tangdar. Troops retaliated effectively and killed at least one militant. “But, unfortunately our men got possibly exposed and three of them died in the ambush”, DGP said. According to the information available with the DGP, one of three soldiers killed in the encounter was a Subedar.
“The operation is continuing as reinforcement has rushed to the spot. We are sure that more than one militant have died, though we have spotted only one body”, DGP said.
Defence spokesperson at headquarters of 15 Corps, Lt Col. N.N. Joshi said that the patrol, led by a JCO, intercepted an infiltrating group of terrorists. “In the heavy exchange of fire that followed, the infiltrating group was beaten back leaving behind one dead terrorist from whom one AK-47, one Pistol and other administrative items were recovered. During the firefight, four jawans sustained injuries of which three succumbed and one is out of danger. As per last reports, the operation is still in progress”.
DGP Rajendra, who visited the site of another encounter and spoke to STATE TIMES from Kulgam late on Monday night, said that a couple of militants ambushed a patrol of Rashtriya Rifles 1st battalion at Kanjikullah, near Yaripora village of Kulgam, in the afternoon. Troops retaliated and at least one militant got injured. However, in the initial shootout, one soldier got critically injured who later succumbed to injuries at Army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar.
Residents led the troops to a trail of blood which helped the Army, alongwith Kulgam Police and CRPF 18th battalion, reach the militant hideout in an orchard. The injured militant engaged troops in another gunfight in which he died. He was later identified as Ayatullah Bhat alias Khomeini of Chinnigam Frisal, a top wanted “District Commander” of LeT.
According to Police records, Khomeini, who also operated with code name of Abu Maaz, was wanted in several militancy related crimes since 2010. He had allegedly shot dead Sarpanch Gul Mohammad Dar of Hawora on February 9, 2012, He was also wanted for allegedly killing one Police and two CRPF personnel at Arwani and Awaneera and the assassination of a civilian, Zakir Sayeed Bhat of Sangas Kulgam.
DGP described Khomeini’s death in Monday’s encounter as a major success for security forces and Police and a significant setback for LeT. He said that apart from planning and carrying out several attacks on soft targets, Police and security forces, Khomeini had also recruited a number of the local youths in his organisation. He was a close associate of LeT’s topmost commander in South Kashmir Abu Qasim.
An official spokesman said that unidentified gunmen, suspected to be militants, fired upon the local subsidiary of BSNL, Iqra Telecom in Naupora Sopore, in the forenoon. Three persons at the business establishment sustained injuries. They were identified as Mohammad Rafeeq of Pohru Handwara, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat of Noorbagh and Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone of Achhabal, Sopore. They were rushed to Srinagar and admitted to SMHS Hospital where Rafeeq succumbed to injuries.
In a significant development, separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani condemned the attack on the unarmed civilians. In an unusual condemnation, Geelani without blaming the government agencies alleged that some people were doing acts of terror to defame Islam and Kashmir’s separatist movement.
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