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Militant, soldier killed as gunfight rages in Kulgam

Protests, clashes in several areas; Internet suspended in 2 districts
Khalid Gul
Kulgam | Posted : Nov 15 2017 2:03AM | Updated: Nov 15 2017 12:14AM
Militant, soldier killed as gunfight rages in Kulgam
Funeral of Toib Majeed Mir in Brath Kalan, Sopore Photo: GK

A Hizbul Mujahideen militant and an army soldier were killed in a gunfight in Kund area of Kulgam district on Tuesday, police said.

A police source said that acting on specific input, the army’s 9 Rashtriya Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force and the J&K police cordoned off remote Nowbugh-Wasernag village at around 7.30 am.

He said that at around 8 am, the hiding militants fired on the forces, triggering a gunfight.

The source said that there was no firing from the militants' side after some time, indicating that they might have escaped. But, he said, that at around 11:30 am, a contact was re-established with the militants in the upper reaches.

“There was a heavy exchange of fire between the militants and forces during which an army man was critically injured,” he said.

The injured soldier—identified as Najendar of army’s 10 Sikh regiment based in 9 RR camp—later succumbed to his injuries.

He said that three other soldiers and a policeman Fida Hussain also sustained injuries in the gunfight.

The source said that one over-ground worker of Hizbul Mujahideen was arrested during the operation.

As the gunfight was on, people in large numbers came out and tried to disrupt the operation by resorting to heavy stone-pelting on the forces, a witness said.

“The forces resorted to aerial firing and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the protesters,” he said.

A police official said that an exchange of fire continued till late afternoon after which there was a halt.

“A body of a militant was found lying near the encounter site for quite some time. The body was retrieved in the evening and was identified as Muzamil Manzoor of Badroo-Yaripora area of Kulgam,” he said.

An engineering graduate from a government-run college, Muzamil had joined Hizbul Mujahideen ranks three years back and was a close associate of its slain commander Dawood Sheikh alias Chota Burhan of Qaimoh who was killed in 2016.

As soon as the word about Muzamil’s killing spread in his native area, people took to streets and held protests. Earlier in the day, protests and clashes also erupted in Khudwani and Redwani areas of Qaimoh.

Meanwhile, the search operation was suspended due to darkness, even as two to three Lashkar-i-Toiba militants are believed to have escaped deep into the Masnad forests, a police official said.

Kashmir range inspector general of police Muneer Ahmad Khan confirmed the killing of a militant and a soldier. “The militant killed was affiliated with Hizb but had ganged up with Lashkar militants when the operation was launched,” he said.

He said that the operation has been suspended for the night and would resume in the morning.

“This is a forest area and we will resume the operation in the morning to get to the other militants who are hiding there,” Khan told Greater Kashmir.

On the arrest of an OGW, he said: “One person has been picked up for questioning only.”

Meanwhile, the internet services in Kulgam and neighboring Anantnag district were suspended soon after the gunfight erupted.