Kashmiri protesters clash with police on the outskirts of Srinagar after forces killed four militants, including Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) chief Dawood Salafi during an encounter at Nowshera village, on June 22, 2018.(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)
Kashmiri protesters clash with police on the outskirts of Srinagar after forces killed four militants, including Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) chief Dawood Salafi during an encounter at Nowshera village, on June 22, 2018.(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

Four militants killed in Kashmir encounter inspired by Islamic State, say police

This is the first encounter to occur between militants and security personnel ever since Jammu and Kashmir came under governor’s rule
By Mir Ehsan | Hindustan Times, Srinagar
UPDATED ON JUN 22, 2018 09:55 PM IST

Four militants suspected to be running a local module of the Islamic State (IS), a policeman and a civilian were killed in Nowshera village of Anantnag district on Friday in the first encounter between militants and security forces since Jammu and Kashmir came under Governor’s Rule two days ago.

More than 20 civilians were injured in clashes between the police and local residents that erupted in the neighbourhood. The local villagers were trying to break a police cordon to help the militants escape.

All four militants, including the leader of the module Dawood Sofi, were locals who, the police said, were inspired by the ideology of the IS. It is the first time the local police have admitted that members of a militants’ module inspired by IS ideology had been killed in any operation.

Jammu and Kashmir director general of police, SP Vaid, said that the militants used to post on a website of the IS information about any attack they carried out on J&K police or the Central Reserve Police Force in J&K.

“The IS has no infrastructure in Kashmir. This group was headed by Dawood Sofi; earlier they were affiliated with Tahreek-ul-Mujahideen. In our records they were the only four (remaining IS-inspired) militants present in Kashmir,’’ he said, adding that a few of its members had died in an encounter in the past. “This group had carried out many attacks on the police and the CRPF.’’

Governor NN Vohra took charge of the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday, a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s walked out from its alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party forced chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to resign.

On Friday morning , after receiving credible information about the presence of the militants in Khiram area of Sirigufwara in Anantnag, a search was launched by a joint team of the army, CRPF and J&K police. As they advanced towards a house where the militants were suspected to be holed up, gunmen inside opened fire, hitting policeman Ashiq Hussain and a civilian, Mohammad Yousuf Rather, 53, and his wife. Hussain and Rather died of their injuries.

The police said the militants were hiding in the house of Rather. The militants who were killed in the operation have been identified as Dawood Ahmad Sofi of Srinagar, Majid Manzoor Dar, Aadil Rehman Bhat and Mohammad Ashraf Itoo from south Kashmir.

Sofi, 33, was involved in number of stone-pelting cases in the area prior to joining the ranks of militants. He was involved in a terror attack which resulted in the death of assistant sub-inspector Ghulam Mohammad and head constable Naseer Ahmad at Bagh-Ali-Mardan Khan in Zadibal, Srinagar, and also in the killing of a policeman and snatching of his rifle at Tengpora Batamaloo, besides other terror attacks, a police officer said.Sofi joined militancy two years ago and was an A+++ category militant, the officer said.

Defence spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said that two militants were killed in the first assault. Two more died near a stream in the area when a search operation was carried out.

Even as the encounter progressed, villagers began pelting stones at security personnel in an attempt to allow the militants to escape. Twenty people were injured in the clashes when the police used teargas shells and fired pellets to disperse the protestors.

Internet services were suspended in Srinagar and Anantnag after the encounter.In the afternoon, the body of Sofi was brought to his native place, Zanikote, where hundreds of mourners had gathered. The protestors also blocked traffic on the Baramulla-Srinagar national highway.

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