Top Militant Killed In Sopore Encounter: Police

 KO File Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar: Police on Tuesday claimed to have killed Al-Badr Chief Gani Khwaja in an encounter in Sopore town of Baramulla district.

Acting on specific inputs, special operations group (SOG) of police, army and the personnel of CRPF laid a siege around Tujjar area of Sopore on Tuesday evening and launched a combing and search operation, a police official said. When the search operation was in progress, the hiding militant, he said, opened fire upon the joint team in an attempt to escape from their dragnet.

“The fire was returned sparking off an encounter. In the exchange of fire, one militant was killed,” the official said.

A local news agency quoted IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar as claiming that Al-Badr chief Gani Khwaja has been killed in the Tujjar encounter and his killing was a big success for the government forces.

Earlier, Kashmir police announced the outbreak of encounter on its official Twitter handle.

“Encounter has started at Tujjar area of Sopore. Police and Army are on the job. Further details shall follow,” police Tweeted.

Talking to reporters at Sopore, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Sopore, Javaid Iqbal said that a militant was killed in the operation that was launched on the basis of a specific input.

Today’s gunfight between militants and the government forces comes almost after two week lull.

On February 24, police had claimed to have killed two unidentified militants in an encounter in a forest area in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district

Meanwhile, a police spokesperson in a statement issued here said that Khawaja was involved in dozens of militancy related and other crime cases, including attacks on security forces and civilian atrocities. The Al-Badr chief, he said, was also the main recruiter of innocent youth into militant ranks.

Divulging details of cases registered against him, the police spokesperson said that Khwaja was responsible for a grenade blast in October 28, 2019 at the bus stand Sopore in which 19 civilians sustained injuries. In the same year in March, he said, Khwaja had carried out a rifle grenade attack on police Post Warpora, in which two police personnel.

“He also attacked a joint naka party of Police and CRPF at Bismillah-Colony, Model-Town Sopore, in which four CRPF personnel got seriously injured and one among them while being evacuated to hospital succumbed to injuries. In the incident one civilian identified as Bashir Ahmad Khan was also killed by the bullets fired by militants on July 1, 2020,” he said.

Besides it, the police spokesperson said that the killed Al-Badr chief was also involved in an attack on a CRPF party at Ahad-Baba crossing in Noorbagh on April 18 last year in which 3 CRPF personnel were killed and two seriously injured.

He further said that Khwaja also had a hand in the killing of a civilian Danish Manzoor Najar of Bomai Sopore and attack on police party at Warpora Chowk, in which one SPO and one civilian were killed and another SPO got injured on 04-03-2020.

“He was also involved in killing of civilians and grenade attacks on Police/SFs establishments. He was also involved in providing arms and ammunition to militant associates for carrying out subversive activities in the area,” the police spokesperson said, adding that the killed militant was operating in Langate, upper and lower Qaziabad, Handwara, Sopore, Zainageer, Tujjar, Barahampora and other areas of north Kashmir.

“Incriminating materials including arms & ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation and to probe his complicity in other crimes,” he said.

He further said that the last rites of the killed militant shall be performed after conducting his medico-legal formalities and his nearest family members shall be allowed to participate in the last rites.

“In this connection a case under relevant sections of law has been registered and investigation has been initiated. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials, if any,” the police spokesperson added.

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