Harkat 'Distt Commdr' Killed In Bandipore
18 October 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Two Pakistani militants of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen have got killed in a fierce gunbattle with security forces in Bandipore today. Informed sources told EXCELSIOR that working on a specific operation troops of Rashtriya Rifles 57 Bn launched a cordon-and-search operation at Lodara village in Bandipore in the morning today. According to the tip off, two militants of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen were present at a hideout. As men from SOG Bandipore also joined the operation and troops zeroed in on the target house, militants opened fire and made unsuccessful attempts to escape. Even as the holed up militants duo offered tough resistance and left two of the soldiers injured, troops destroyed the target house in a four-hour-long encounter. Both the militants got killed. Officials identified one of the duo as 'Dr Zen' of Pakistan and claimed that he had been functioning as Harkat's 'District Commander' in Bandipore area. Another militant, who died in the operation, was said to be the commander's body-guard. Sources said that two AK-47 rifles, two damaged radio sets and a quantity of assorted ammunition was recovered from the site of encounter. Official sources said that Dr Zen had fired upon a patrol party of RR 14 Bn at Arin, in Bandipore area, three days ago. They said that having planned and carried out many attacks on security forces and other targets in the last few years, Zen had begun planning attacks on junior and senior Police officials engaged in counter-insurgency operations. Sources said that six structures, including four residential houses, were damaged in the gunbattle today. Reports from Bandipore said that over two hundred people gathered at Papchan bridge and staged a demonstration in protest against destroying of a number of houses in the operation. They also agitated over detention of a civilian by Army. Later, SDPO Bandipore prevailed upon RR 57 Bn and the detainee was set free. It pacified the residents and they returned to their village. Here in Srinagar, a Jamait-ul-Mujahideen spokesman claimed to news agencies that one of the militants killed was his outfit's 'Battalion Commander' Abul Khair alias Mohammad Usman and another was Imran of Jaish-e-Mohammad. Officials however insisted that one was Zen and another was his body-guard. Meanwhile, troops of Rashtriya Rifles 50 Bn launched a search and destroy operation in Shershali, Anantnag district over a specific information. During the search operation, troops busted a hideout and recovered 6 Kg explosives, 5 detonators, 4 hand grenades, 5 AK magazines, 300 rounds of AK ammunition and 1 Radio set. On another tip off, troops of Rashtriya Rifles 30 Bn launched a search operation at Shatgund, Kupwara. During the search operation, troops recovered 15 hand grenades, 1 rifle, 4 magazines, 220 rounds of ammunition and 1 radio set. In yet another operation, troops of Rashtriya Rifles 31 Bn launched a search operation in Narad, Kupwara and recovered 3 rocket propelled grenades with booster, 1 UBGL, 18 UBGL grenades, 198 rounds of PIKA ammunition, 570 rounds of AK ammunition, 65 rounds of AK tracer ammunition, 19 AK magazines and 1 rocket launcher. Reports from Kupwara added that the forest fire which had started in Kandi and Lolab forest areas has caused extensive damage to conifer trees. Reports said that flames had been extinguished at several places but fire was still raging in over a dozen compartments in Sogam area. While some people insist that movement of security forces, including lighting of cigarettes and cooking rice, was the cause of fire, others say that local wood-poachers have also been burning fire to keep themselves warm and the same, they believe, has turned into a major bushfire. Reports said that none of senior Forest officials had visited compartment Nos 13, 10, 44, 41, 23, 24 and 27 which had suffered extensive damage due to fire. Among junior officials, one Forester and a Forest Guard have sustained injuries in firefighting.