3 militants, civilian killed in Baramulla
24 December 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: Police and security forces have killed three of the six Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba, holed up in three operations, in Baramulla district since last evening. Meanwhile, suspected militants have gunned down a private transport agent in Pattan area of the same district in north Kashmir. Informed sources told the EXCELSIOR that the 24-hour-long joint operation of Sopore Police and Rashtriya Rifles 22 Bn has ended with the death of both the holed up militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba at Dangarpora village of Sopore this evening. They said that none of the troopers was killed or injured though three constables of Sopore Police-namely Kafeel Ahmed, Farooq Ahmed and Jasbir Singh-sustained injuries. Fighting in the forefront, they were evacuated and admitted to a hospital for treatment. Spokespersons of Army, Police and militants identified the slain militant duo as Abu Usama Pehalwan and Abu Sa'ad, both Pakistani nationals. Spokesman at headquarters 15 Corps, Col Hemant Juneja, claimed that Abu Usama was Al-Mansoorain outfit's 'Chief of Operations' while Abu Usman alias Sa'ad was a 'District Commander'. Al-Mansoorain, widely believed to be a front name of Lashkar-e- Toiba, confirmed the death of two of its militants but did not mention them as 'commanders'. Its spokesman, Aamir Mir, said over telephone that the area was 'extremely tense and disturbed' and it was not immediately clear whether Army had suffered any damage or not. When Police and Army claim of no collateral damage was pointed out to him, he said 'If it turns out to be true, it will be Army's first encounter of zero-casualty with Al-Mansoorain'. He claimed that troops had suffered damage in all gunbattles with Al-Mansoorain till date. Officials, however, admitted that it was for the first time in the last 12 months that Police and security forces had engaged militants in an encounter in the jurisdiction of Police Station Sopore. They said that the last encounter in Sopore had taken place at Agriculture Complex on December 22, 2005. They also admitted that the militants, particularly those of Lashkar-e-Toiba, had established an effective network of underground and overground cadres in Sopore belt in the last over one year but 'a better coordination' between Police and security forces was now turning the tables. They claimed that the militants were now on the run as Police and security forces had neutralised a number of them and the process of detaining over two dozen 'overground activists' under Public Safety Act (PSA) was presently underway. Officials further claimed that the same militants, who had been killed at Dangarpora today, had killed a large number of civilians and beheaded a Territorial Army soldier of Gund Brath in October last. According to them, these very militants had attacked Army's convoy at Sopore on Friday where two civilians had died in retaliatory firing and three more had been left injured. They said that Police and security forces swooped on the hideout at Dangarpora after learning that militants had constructed a concrete hideout of 10x12 ft at the house of Rashid Dar which had its entrance through a wooden almirah. Meanwhile, a Defence spokesman claimed that two militants had been killed by troops of Rashtriya Rifles 29 Bn in the 30-hour-long gunbattle at Behrampora in Pattan area of Baramulla district. Spokesman of Al-Mansoorain militant outfit claimed that only one militant, namely Abu Omar, got killed. He claimed that another militant, Abu Tahir, managed to escape and reached back safely to his hideout. Police officials in Baramulla maintained that the search in the debris was still incomplete. They said that Police had neither spotted nor received any dead body of militants till late this afternoon. As already reported, Commanding Officer of RR 29 Bn, Col G S Sarna, had died in the same operation on Saturday afternoon. An 11-year old boy Aqib Nazir was also ignored when he was lit by a stray bullet in one of his legs. He has been hospitalised. Sources said that the third operation at Sadpora was being withdrawn as Police and security forces didnot find any of the militants or their weapons in the search operation in the last 24 hours. This operation too had been launched last evening on a tip off that suggested presence of two militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba at the hideout. Sources said that suspected militants gunned down one Ghulam Mohiuddin Dar S- o Abdus Sattar Dar of Turka Batpora, Pattan, when he was coming out of the village mosque after performing the afternoon prayers at Shooch Palpora in Pattan area today. Father of seven children, Dar had gone to the mosque after paying a visit to his in-laws at the same village. Meanwhile, on specific information of an arms and ammunitions cache, four army coloumns were launched for search in area of village Sheri, Uri, Baramulla today. During search of the area, two AK rifles, 1084 AK ammunitions, seven AK magazines, four pistols, five pistol magazines, 32 pistol ammunitions, two UBGL, 57 UBGL grenades, one disposal RL, 40 hand grenades, seven anti tank mines, five anti tank grenades, four improvised explosive devices, three improvised explosive device charger, nine detonator, one binocular, four kgs explosives, three rocket propelled grenade shells and three radio sets. With the recovery of such huge war like stores the militants have got a setback in carrying out their anti- national activities, a Defence spokesman said.