Sopore encounter ends; 2 LeT fidayeen, jawan killed
11 November 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Two ‘Fidayeen’ of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), who were holed up in a hotel at apple rich Sopore town in Baramulla district for the past three days, were killed by security forces. A police spokesman said a CRPF jawan was also killed and six other security personnel wounded in the gun-fight. He said the slain militants were identified as Abu Osama Zeeshan alias Qasim, of Leh district in North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan and Abu Talha alias Janbaz Mumtaz Ullah, of district Meanwali, Pakistan. Two AK assault rifles, two magazines and two pouches were also recovered from the site of encounter, the spokesman added. However, for security reasons, security forces were still searching the area, a CRPF spokesman said. He said fire-fight began early today when security forces tried to storm the area, where the militant was hiding in the hotel. He said at 0930 hrs the second Fidayeen (member of a suicide squad) was also killed. The first Fidayeen was killed on the first day of the operation on November 8. The spokesman said the operation pro-longed as security forces did not want to cause damage to the hotel. Senior officials, including Inspector General of CRPF for Kashmir Range M S Gupta, remained present on the spot during the operation. He said there were about 16 rooms in the three-storey hotel and the holed up militants were often changing their positions. On November 8 afternoon, a small hut near the hotel was damaged in the encounter. Six security personnel were injured in the gun-battle, the spokesman said. He said in order to avoid civilian casualties, security forces exercised restrain and did not return the fire till all those present in the hotel were rescued by the CRPF and the Special Operation Group (SOG) of State Police. He said immediately after the rescue operation, security forces also retaliated and killed one of the militants. IGP Kashmir S M Sahai camped at Sopore for three days supervising the entire operation. Sources said the operation lasted three days as police and security forces wanted to avoid collateral damage. Police and security forces first evacuated people from their houses and ensured that there was minimum damage to property and no civilian casualties. The operation was prolonged but it was ensured that all civilians in the area were taken to safety before targeting the militants, sources said, describing the operation as clean. A spokesman of the LeT Abdullah Gaznavi, however, said that the two holed up LeT militants have managed to escape from the hotel, while two others were fighting the troops. He claimed that about 15 security forces personnel were killed or wounded in the encounter. This was the second pro-longed encounter in north Kashmir during the past one week. In a three-day-long encounter, which ended on November 9 afternoon, five LeT foreign militants and four soldiers, including Major Virender Singh were killed and more than a dozen houses were gutted. Meanwhile, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan was killed when militants ambushed a Road Opening Party (ROP) in Sopore. Official sources said militants fired upon the ROP of 177 Battalion of CRPF near Channakhan Bridge, in Sopore town of this district. Security forces retaliated and in the ensuring encounter, one CRPF jawan Yumana Rumio was killed. However, militants managed to escape from the scene, the sources said. A massive hunt has been launched to nab the militants. A Bofors shell was found in a village in Anantnag district where a massive fire destroyed in an Army Ordnance Depot three months ago, a police spokesman said today. The shell was found at Moominabad village last evening. It was later destroyed by the Bomb Disposal Squad.