Another Gunbattle in Pulwama, 1 Killed

PULWAMA:  A militant was killed in an ongoing gunfight with government forces in Kakapora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday.

The gunfight started at Astan Mohalla in Kakapora after police and army cordoned off the locality. The forces had inputs about the presence of militants and as the search operation was underway, the militants hiding in a residential house fired on the search party of the forces leading to gunfight.

Sources said that in the brief exchange of heavy gunfire, a local militant identified as Talib Afzal Shah was killed. Sources said that the slain, a resident of Kakapora was highly educated and from a well off family.

Meanwhile, the firing between the two sides stopped for a while and the forces were able to retrieve the body of the slain militant killed in the firefight.

Official sources said that the two militants, including a top commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba  were also with the Talib but they managed to escape from the house in the cover of heavy gunfire.

“However, the forces managed to zero in on a house in which they had taken shelter and the firing started again between the two sides,” sources said.

The gunfight between the two sides was underway when reports last came in Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, as the Govt forces started cordon and search operation, hundreds of residents of the area came out of their houses and held protests. 

“As the news about the death of Talib spread in the town, hundreds of people from adjoining areas of Kakapora including Patalbagh, Lelhar, Naman, Aloochibagh, Samboora, Hathwara and other areas rushed towards the spot of incident. Since the encounter was going,  security personnel did not allow them to proceed towards the encounter site resulting in the violent clashes”, police sources said.

  “Some enraged youth pelted stones on forces busy in the operation. The police and CRPF present retaliated by resorting to aerial firing. They lobbed scores of tear-smoke and pepper gas shells. In the clashes, a protester identified as Lateef Ahmad of Qazigund Pulwama, was injured after a teargas shell hit him on his abdomen. He was rushed to hospital but his condition is stated to be stable, police sources said.  

‘Post- graduate Talib was forced to pick up gun: Mother

Kakapora:  Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Talib Afzal Shah (22) who was killed by Government forces in Pulwama on Thursday was a post graduate student who had joined militant ranks in 2012. “Talib had completed his masters degree in Physical Education from Kashmir University and had actively participated in 2008 and 2010 agitation in Kashmir”, residents said.

“My son had been arrested several times on charges of stone-pelting and even after his release the security agencies used to raid our house, always looking for him. He finally decided to join Lashkar-e-Taiba,” his wailing mother told reporters.

She said last time when security agencies raided her house, she was so agitated that in front of Army officer she set all the educational degrees of Talib on fire. “Time and again security agencies harassed my son and forced him to pick up the gun. I blame them for everything. My son was very intelligent and being a pious soul commanded great respect in the area,” she said.

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