Gunshots Resonate Outside Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar

A contingent of forces personnel carrying out searches inside Hazratbal Shrine following a brief encounter in which a Pakistani militant was killed while two of his associates escaped. KO photo, Abid Bhat

Militant Killed, 2 Associates Escape After Brief Shootout

Srinagar- A Pakistani militant of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was killed in a brief shootout in Hazratbal area here on Thursday while a search operation was launched to nab two of his associates who managed to flee, police said.

The trio tried to snatch weapons from the guard posted at the Hazratbal shrine on the banks of the famous Dal Lake. The shrine houses the relic of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said one of the militants was a Pakistani and termed his killing a "big success".

"We were monitoring him. His aim was to attack the shrine guard and snatch his weapon. He fired at the police party, which retaliated. In the firing, the Pakistani militant was killed," Kumar told reporters outside the shrine complex.

The slain militant was identified as Manzoor alias Haider alias Hamza. He was affiliated with proscribed outfit LeT, the IGP said.

"He was an associate of top LeT/TRF commander Mehran. His killing is a big success," he said.

Kumar said Manzoor was active in Srinagar for the past six months. He was involved in several killings. A video in which he talked about attacking senior officials had gone viral.

On the two militants who fled, the IGP said, "We are tracking them. We hope to neutralise them soon."

Kumar said the militants were trying to use religious places to take shelter and stir emotions to create a law and order issue.

"His (the Pakistani militant's) aim was to enter the mosque, engage with the government forces, spread news and stir religious sentiments of the people and create a law and order problem. But we will not let them (militants) succeed in that," he said.

Meanwhile, a police spokesperson in a handout issued here this evening said that the timely action of a small police party who were tracking the trio led to the elimination of Haider.

“As per police records, he said, the killed militant was a close associate of militant commander Mehran of LeT and involved in several “terror crime cases including civilian atrocities”.

The spokesperson said that cases under relevant sections of law have been registered and investigation has been initiated.

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