Sopore Toll Goes To 6, Battle Ends After 30 Hrs

SRINAGAR: Another militant was killed in the besieged Saidapora village outside Sopore on Wednesday, taking the toll to six in the gun battle that ended after 30 hours this afternoon.

The northern township and adjoining areas remained shut down for the slain Lashkar-e-Tayyaba cadre, only one of whom has been identified as a Kashmiri, even as clashes broke out in the main square and some other places, with groups of youth pelting stones, and the police and the paramilitary men retaliating with cane-charges and tear gas.

The militant surviving Tuesday’s fighting was said to have renewed battle early this morning, holding out till afternoon against heavy contingents of the police, the CRPF and the army.

The exchange of fire also left an army major and two personnel injured.

Another house and a cowshed were damaged in today’s fighting.

Additional troops had been rushed in on Tuesday night to tighten the siege around the village after the forces suspended the operation, which had left 5 militants dead, at around 11 p.m. due to darkness.

Reports said that the forces had used generator-powered flood-lights to keep the encounter site lit-up, and sealed off all escape routes, suspecting more militants to be holed-up.

There has been no word from the police and the army over the identity of five of the slain militants, except that all the six belonged to the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba – with only one hailing from Kashmir.

Identified as Athar Ahmad Dar, alias Naveed, nee Abu Ali, from the Model Town area of Sopore, the lone local militant killed in the battle had been handed over to his family late on Tuesday and laid to rest during the night, reports said.

The latest encounter takes the militant toll to nine during an operation launched last Thursday in Sopore outskirts against the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba which, according to the police, was trying to rebuild itself in the town.

The inspector general of police in Kashmir said that the Lashkar men had sneaked into the area from other places in North Kashmir to strengthen their base after the group was nearly wiped out in the town over the past months. 

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