7 Militants, 2 Soldiers, Woman Killed
28 June 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: With the north Kashmir districts of Baramulla and Kupwara turning hot this summer, militants today left at least one soldier dead and 16 others injured in an ambush on Handwara-Langet Road even as Police foiled a fidayeen attack on headquarters of 28-Infantry Division in Kupwara, killing all the three militants in combat uniform. Meanwhile, one soldier and at least four militants got killed when troops ambushed an infiltrating group close to LoC in Uri sector of Baramulla district. Informed sources told EXCELSIOR that Kupwara Police swung into action and put itself on the track of a group of three militants in close vicinity of Army's headquarters of 28-Infantry Division at Zangli, on Kupwara-Sogam Road. From its sources, Police had received information that three heavily armed militants, wearing Kashmiri Pherans over full battle Army uniform, had waylaid a blue-colour Maruti van of Winning Age Public School, JK03-9541, at Salkoot and forced its driver to carry them to the Divisional Headquarters. A Police party immediately alerted Army and boarded a privately hired Tata Sumo to follow or intercept the militants. As the driver halted some 300 metres short of the military formation and the Police party reached close to the van, all the three militants jumped out. One of the three militants, according to the tip off, was a local cadre of Lashkar-e-Toiba, namely Irshad Ahmed Bajad S-o Abdur Rasheed Bajad R-o Haji Mohalla, Potshai. Even as the militants tried to take shelter in the nearby Harpora Salkoot village, they were all gunned down in a brief encounter. During the course of gunfight, a recently married but pregnant woman, namely Fehmeeda W-o Zahoor Ahmed Malik, was hit in the head. Sources said that the woman succumbed to injuries when she was being evacuated and rushed to hospital. Though, some of the villagers held Police and security forces responsible for causing Fehmeeda's death, officials maintained that she died in crossfiring. They said that leader of the SOG party SP Shahid Meraj planned and executed the entire operation under continuous monitoring of SSP Kupwara Vijay Kumar from Srinagar and there were clear instructions to ensure that no civilian casualty took place. DIG north Kashmir, Dr B Srinivas, who visited the spot immediately after the operation concluded, said that the militants killed were unidentified though one of them was reportedly a local and two appeared to be from Pakistan or PoK. Three AK-rifles, nine grenades, one radio set and 287 rounds of ammunition were recovered from the slain militants. He said that the militants, with clear intention of launching a suicidal attack on the Army formation, were wearing combat uniform, including military shoes and BP-like vests. Sources said that in broad daylight today, militants ambushed a Handwara-Nowgam down convoy of Army near Chotipora-Marhatgam while using AK-56 rifles and rocket launchers. Even as the QRT retaliated, one RPG shell landed straight into a vehicle and exploded with a huge blast. As the targeted vehicle suffered extensive damage and Army remained non- committal over the incident, Police sources said that 17 soldiers and a 16-year-old boy, Zahid Manzoor Bhat, sustained injuries. They said that one of the critically wounded soldiers later succumbed to injuries. Spokesman of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi, claimed over telephone that two of the targeted vehicles were destroyed by two militants of his organisation. He claimed that both the militants, who carried out the operation, reached safely back to their hideout. Sources said that a unit of 9- Maratha LI in an ambush intercepted a thick group of infiltrating militants in Tarang Bahak, in general area of Zorawar, close to LoC in Uri sector in the wee hours today. As the militants, believed to be between 12 and 18 in number, were trapped and challenged to halt but they opened fire. A fierce gunbattle began which continued for the whole day. While Defence authorities confirmed the death of four militants and maintained that the operation was 'in progress' and details were awaited, informed sources told EXCELSIOR that three soldiers sustained injuries in the gunbattle. They said that one of the soldiers later succumbed to injuries. Sources said that troops were still in search of over a dozen militants who were believed to have escaped but were still present in the same area. A Defence spokesman said that on the information of 3-FID, 15-CISU and unit source, troops of 32-Rashtriya Rifles launched a search operation in the general area of Fidarpore, Rafiabad, in Baramulla district. Troops apprehended two militants, identified as Abdul Rahim Malla alias V5 S-o Ghulam Rasool Malla R-o Fidarpore, listed terrorist in police station Panzala and Mohamed Shafi Malla S-o late Abdul Ahad Malla R-o Karalagund. During search of house of Abdul Rahim Malla, troops busted a hideout inside an almirah and received warlike stores. The recovery includes one pressure cooker IED approximate weight 3 kgs and 2 UBGL grenades. On investigating, both individuals admitted that they were cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba.