For the fourth time this year, a militant engaged security forces in a gun battle and succeeded in fleeing from the encounter site.
On Saturday evening, a self-styled battalion commander of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen exchanged gunfire with the police in North Kashmir’s Sopore town for hours and escaped on Sunday morning after setting ablaze the house he was hiding in.
Twelve kilometres away, two militants of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) escaped from a place on the outskirts of Sopore before security forces could lay a cordon.
In the encounter in Sopore town, 55 km north of Srinagar, a local militant of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was visiting his house when security forces surrounded it after getting a tip-off on Saturday evening.
As the forces were closing in, the militant sneaked out and entered a neighbour’s house.
“As we cordoned the house, he started firing his pistol from the top floor,” said DIG A.Q. Manhas of the state police.
Security forces then lobbed tear gas shells into the house to force the militant out, he said.
“Security personnel entered the house but he threw grenades, putting the building on fire. In the process he managed to escape,” said Manhas.
The police found an AK-47 assault rifle, three magazines, two grenades and a laptop at the site after the gun battle ended in the wee hours of Sunday.
Explaining how militants escape scenes of clashes, Kashmir IG of police Farooq Ahmad told HT, “An encounter is not an ordinary thing. As they take place in residential areas, there is every apprehension of collateral damage. We try to save people first and then hunt the militants.”