Mosque stand-off ends, militants given safe passage
31 May 2001
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: TWO LASHKAR-E-TAYYEBA militants, who were holed-up inside a mosque for 15 hours in a south Kashmir village near Pulwama, were given safe passage by the security forces on Wednesday night. Official sources said the troops and the Special Operations Group (SOG) pulled out of Kharwar village of the southern Pulwama district following intervention by Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and top Army commanders, including Corps Commander of 15-Corps, Lt. General J.R. Mukherjee. The Lashkar militants got trapped in the mosque in the wee hours on Wednesday when security forces laid siege to the village after hard intelligence that a group of militants were staying there. Sources quoting local residents said that more than 40 heavily armed cadres of the Lashkar were present in the village when the siege was laid. The militants, however, succeeded in escaping from the security dragnet but for the two, who were in the mosque for prayers, sources said. The security forces asked the militants holed up in the mosque to come out and lay down their arms. However, the militants responded with opening fire that resulted in the killing of two personnel, one of them an armyman and the other an SPO.