January 2002 News

Ghazi Baba may be under siege in J&K

4 January 2002
The Hindustan Times
Rashid Ahmad

Srinagar: Security forces shot dead three top commanders of the Jaish-e- Mohammad in a fierce encounter at Kawoosa village in central Kashmir''s Budgam district. Some more commanders of the group were reportedly trapped in the village. The encounter was continuing when reports last came in. Some unconfirmed reports said that Jaish''s pointman in India Ghazi Baba, the man suspected to have masterminded the December 13 attack on Parliament, was one of the militants trapped in the village. ''There are rumours that Ghazi Baba is also inside,'' said a security official. ''We have further tightened the siege,'' he added, ''and if (the rumour is) true, he (Ghazi Baba) cannot escape this time''. Sources said that the army and Jammu and Kashmir police''s special operation group surrounded the village, following a tip-off at 1.30 p.m. on Friday and launched search operations. The sources added the militants then fired at the security forces. Quoting local residents, who were evacuated from the village after the encounter, police sources said 10-12 Jaish militants were hiding in the village when it was surrounded. Security forces plugged all possible escape routes, trapping the militants inside. The three Jaish commanders killed were identified as Nazir Ahmad Wani, a local commander, and Abu Vaqas and Abdul Basit, both Pakistani nationals. Vaqas and Basit were reported to be top-ranking commanders. The house in which the militants were hiding was destroyed. Sources said that the firing stopped around 8.00 p.m. However, security forces were still blockading the village, suspecting the presence of more militants there.


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