2 army men, 2 militants killed in separate encounters in south Kashmir
Two Indian Army personnel, including a major, and as many militants were killed in two separate gun battles in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, officials said, in an upsurge of shootouts in the restive region in the past few months.
Major Kamlesh Pandey and sepoy Tanzin Chhultim were killed after militants fired upon the security forces during a gun battle in the Zaipora area of Shopian district on Thursday morning.
The forces mounted a cordon and search operation in the area in south Kashmir late on Wednesday night following a tip-off that militants were present in the area.
“The trapped militants escaped after firing on the soldiers,” a senior district police officer told the Hindustan Times.
The Shopian incident came on the heels of a gun battle in Gopalpora area of Kulgam district where forces gunned down two Hizbul Mujahideen militants in an overnight encounter following a search operation.
“One of them was involved in the killing of five policemen and guards of a bank van,” a police spokesperson said.
The spokesperson was referring to the incident in May when militants killed five policemen and two bank guards during an attack on a cash van in Pambay area of Kulgam. The van was returning after dispensing cash to local bank branches when it was attacked.
“The slain militants were identified as Aaqib Ahmad Itoo son of Abdul Hamid Itoo resident of Gopalpora and Suhail Ahmad Rather son of Mohammad Arif Rather resident of Tantraypora Yaripora. Both the militants were involved in unlawful and anti-national activities,” the police said in a statement.
The statement also said Ahmad was involved in the May attack on the cash van of Jammu & Kashmir Bank. He also killed a policeman at Yaripora, robbed the Kader branch of J&K Bank, and snatched a weapon from a guard in Adijan area.
Rather was involved in “instigating people and firing indiscriminately upon security personnel” during protests, it added.
According to the statement, an “INSAS rifle, AK rifle, and two magazines” were also recovered from the encounter site.
Director general of state police, SP Vaid, tweeted: “Last night in a joint operation 2 terrorists were killed at Gopalpora #Kulgam. Well done boys!”
On Tuesday, top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Abu Dujana was killed in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama district. Dujana and another militant were shot dead during an exchange of fire between a group of militants and security forces in Hakripora village.
India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir - a charge Islamabad denies.
In a reply to Parliament, minister of state for home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said there were 184 incidents of violence in the state in which 109 terrorists, 38 security personnel, and 19 civilians were killed in 2017 up to July 23. Rights groups, however, put the number of civilian casualties in the state much higher (over 55) in the corresponding period.
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