5 Local Militants Killed in Shopian Shootout

LeT commander Naveed Jatt appears in funeral, offers gun salute; many injured in clashes   

SHOPIAN — Five locals militants were killed as the overnight encounter with government forces at Kilora village in Shopian district ended on Saturday.

While one militant died late last night, four others were killed early Saturday morning, officials said.  

The gunfight broke out on Friday late evening after a joint team of army and SOG launched a cordon-and-search operation at Kilora area following specific information about the presence of some militants in the area, a police officer had said. 

“As the forces approached the suspected house, the hiding militants opened fire, triggering an encounter,” he said, adding that one militant, Umar Malik of Malikgund, was killed in the initial exchange of fire while the bodies of four others were recovered on Saturday morning.

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The other slain militants were identified as Arshad Ahmad of Ganowpora Balpora, Waqar Ahmad Sheikh of Malikgund, Aijaz Ahmad Paul of Lousdanew, and Arif Ahmad Mir from Yannar village of Pahalgam.

Nearly two dozen protesters were injured in clashes with the government forces near the site of the gunfight.

Reports said that youth took to streets and clashed with the government forces in a bid help trapped militants escape.   

Meanwhile, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant Naveed Jatt, who fled from police custody early this year, made an appearance at the funeral of Waqar Ahmad Sheikh at his funeral in Shopian’s Malikgund village and the photographs surfaced on social media. He reported offered gun salute.  

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Jatt escaped from police custody on February 6 while he was being taken to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital here for a medical examination. Two policemen were killed in a shootout at the hospital.

Meanwhile, over thirty persons, including police officers, were injured during clashes in Yannar village of Pahalgam, the native village of slain local militant Arif Ahmad Mir.

They said that youth pelted the forces with stones. The forces retaliated by firing tear gas and pellets, resulting in injuries to over 30 persons.

A health official said that twenty injured are being treated at PHC Sallar while the rest were shifted to Seer Srigufwara and district hospital Anantnag. Two of the injured with pellet injuries in eyes were referred to Srinagar for specialized treatment.

Meanwhile, reports said a group of 2-3 militants appeared on the podium where body of Malik was kept and fired in the air as a mark of respect to their slain associate. The funeral prayers of all the slain were offered in respective native villages and thousands of people participated in them, reports added.

Civilian killed in cross firing: Army    

A civilian was killed in Ganawpora area of Shopian district on Saturday following funeral of a local militant, who was killed along with four of his associates in the southern Kashmir in an overnight encounter with government forces.   

Reports said that hundreds people gathered in Ganawpora and offered funeral prayers of Arshad Ahmad who was killed in the gunfight at Kiloora village.

Soon after the funeral was over, people took to the streets and hurled stones on army, reports said. The army allegedly fired few rounds, resulting into the killing of a civilian namely Bilal Ahmad Khan, a resident of Pujoo village of Kral Chuk .

However, Srinagar based army spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said that the civilian was “unfortunately” killed in the “cross firing.”

“At around 1500 hours today, Army troops came under fire from (militants) near Ganawpura Orchards.  Army troops immediately retaliated.  In the cross-fire, one civilian unfortunately got injured, who later succumbed to the injury,” he said in a statement issued here.

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