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ISJK chief among four militants killed in south Kashmir

ISJK chief among four militants killed in south Kashmir
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Encounter leaves cop, civilian dead

Srinagar: Police on Friday killed four militants, including chief of the banned Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) Dawood Ahmed Sofi, in a remote mountain village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, six days before the annual Amarnath Yatra begins, officials said.

A policeman and a civilian were also killed in the exchange of fire between militants and security forces at Khiram village of Srigufwara tehsil, police said.

The operation began before dawn at Khiram, 23 km from the main national highway and overlooking the tourist town of Pahalgam, after intelligence reports about the presence of militants in the area, police said.

One of the militants killed was identified as Dawood Ahmed Sofi, who headed the ISIS affiliate ISJK and is believed to be involved in several cases of murder and stone pelting, he said.

The other three, also believed to be with the ISJK, were identified as Aadil Rehman Bhat, Mohammad Ashraf Itoo and Majid Manzoor Dar, said Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Swayam Prakash Pani, who was supervising the operations.

“The operation was successful and teams from state police, army and CRPF made every effort to prevent collateral damage,” Pani said.

Giving details of the encounter, police said a joint patrol of security forces was fired at as they advanced towards a house where the militants were hiding. This resulted in the death of a policeman, Ashiq Hussain, and a civilian identified as 53-year-old Mohammed Yousuf Rather, aged 53.

In the encounter that followed, four militants were gunned down and some civilians injured in the crossfire, an official said.

Giving details about Sofi, police said he was 33 years old, a resident of Srinagar’s Zainakoot area and was involved in several stone pelting cases in the area before he joined the outfit ISJK.

He is believed to be involved in the murder of assistant sub-inspector Ghulam Mohammad and head constable Naseer Ahmad at Bagh Ali Mardan Khan in Zadibal and also in the killing of a policeman and snatching his rifle at Tengpora Batamaloo in May 2016 besides other militant attacks.

Sofi was initially known to be affiliated with the banned Tehrek-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit. Later, the group itself aligned itself with the ideology of the ISIS and renamed the group ISJK, officials said.

Dar of Talangam village in Pulwama also joined the group and remained active along with Bhat who belonged to Shettipora village in Bijbehara and Itoo from Hatigam village in Srigufwara.

The killing of the four militants is being seen as a major achievement with security forces intensifying their operations against militant groups before the two-month Amarnath yatra begins June 28.

Clashes broke out near the encounter site when a group of youth started pelting stones on the forces, a police official said.

Security forces used force on the protestors and several civilians were injured, he added.

Witnesses said that police and paramilitary forces resorted to pellets and firing of bullets to disperse the protestors. Initially, twenty persons suffered injuries and one of them Ubaid Ahmad had bullet injury in his neck and his condition was stated to be serious.

Subsequently, more than ten youth suffered fresh injuries and six of them have bullet wounds.

Hospital sources said that the condition of two among the five with bullet injuries is stated to be critical having firearm injuries in their heads. Identified as Shahid Nazir Hajam son of Nazir Ahmad Hajam and Burhan Shafi son of Mohammad Shafi Bhat, they were referred to SKIMS from Sub-district hospital Bijbehara.

The other injured include Rafiqa Akther, 40, wife of Ghulam Mohd Rather of Nowshera (Trauma Right Hand Bullet Injury), Nissar Ahmad Itoo, 27, of Hatigam (Pellet injury in both legs), Gowhar Ahmad, 25, of Waghama (pellet injury in both arm), Zahid Ahmad, 24, of Waghama (Pellet injury face with left eye), Tahir Ahmad Najar, 26, of Waghama (Bullet injury left arm with fracture), Suhail Farooq, 21, of Nowshera (Bullet injury with left thigh) and Aadil Ahmad Sheikh,22, of Magraypora (Bullet injury left leg), they said.

All the injured were referred to different hospitals of Srinagar for specialized treatment, they said.

Meanwhile, a police spokesman said that pursuing credible leads about the presence of militants in Khiram area of Sirigufwara in District Anantnag, a search was launched by a joint team of Army, CRPF and Police in morning hours in the area.

As the joint patrol made an advance towards the suspected house, militants hiding inside fired indiscriminately on the security forces due to which a policeman Ashiq Hussain and a civilian identified as Mohammad Yousuf Rather (53) son of Gull Mohammad Rather resident of Nowshahar Khiram, got injured and succumbed to their injuries.

Consequently some more civilians also got injured and were shifted to a hospital.

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