Day after Lal Chowk: 2 militants killed in Khrew8 January 2010
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: A day after Lal Chowk operation, security forces today shot dead two militants in an encounter in Khrew area of Pulwama district in South Kashmir even as protest demonstrations continued in Maisuma locality of the city for the third consecutive day. The encounter in Androosa village of Khrew area broke out after security forces launched a search operation in the area following receipt of specific information about presence of militants in the village, official sources said here. As the troops of 50 Rashtriya Rifles and local police zeroed in towards the house where the militants were hiding, they came under heavy firing from the ultras. The security forces retaliated by firing towards the militant hideout, triggering off a fierce gun battle that lasted several hours. In the final offensive, the security forces fired tear smoke shells and mortars to bring out the militants, who were eventually killed, the sources said. They said both the militants were locals and affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit. They have been identified as Altaf Ahmad Mir alias Mohsin , a resident of Awantipora, and Zahoor Ahmad Mir alias Haroon, a resident of Armulla in Pulwama district. Half an hour after the firing stopped, the security forces searched through the debris of the house and recovered some arms and ammunition including AK rifles. A police spokesman said the leads were developed by Srinagar Police about the presence of two wanted militants in the area. Both the militants were part of the break away group of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit which had joined Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit in mid last year and had been instrumental in strengthening of the LeT. They had developed a strong base in Srinagar and South Kashmir, the spokesman said. He said the duo was wanted by the police for their involvement in a number of terrorist acts including the car bomb blast outside the Central Jail Srinagar and killing of two policemen at Pampore last year. 'By killing the duo, the police has solved the Kathidarwaza IED blast case and the Pampore shoot out case,' he added. In the car blast at Kathidarwaza on the Central Jail Road on September 12, 2009, a police bus was damaged, resulting in the death of two police personnel and a woman besides injuring several others. The investigations had revealed that the slain militant Altaf alias Mohsin had carried the IED from Pulwama to Srinagar and detonated it. He had managed to escape from the City. The Police had been hunting for the militant. In the Pampore shootout case of December 22, 2009, two police personnel were killed and one had sustained injuries. As per the investigations, the two slain militants were involved in the shootout. The encounter comes close on the heels of the deadly militant strike in the heart of the city on Wednesday when they hurled grenades at security forces at Lal Chowk and then took refuge in a hotel. The operation lasted 22 hours and ended with death of four persons including two LeT militants and a policeman while a dozen persons including three CRPF jawans and two photojournalists were injured. There has been a surge in militancy related violence in the past two months with ultras killing four CRPF jawans in Sopore on December 29 preceded by a similar strike in Pampore a week earlier in which two policemen were shot dead. In another anti-militancy operation, security forces busted a hideout in Kokernag area of Anantnag district and recovered huge quantity of arms and ammunition, the sources said. They said a search operation was launched by troops of Seven Rashtriya Rifles assisted by local police in Matihindu-Larnoo forest area of Kokernag after receiving a tip off. During searches, the security forces recovered one AK rifle, three magazines, three hand grenades, one Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL), one 12 bore rifle, one wireless set, one binocular and a transistor. Elsewhere, protests continued for the third day today in several areas of the city including Maisuma and Batamaloo localities as police fired several dozen rounds of tear smoke shells to chase away the protestors. A group of youth started pelting stones on police and paramilitary personnel in Maisuma area early in the morning. Police used baton to chase away the protestors but in vain as the protestors kept on disappearing in the narrow lanes and by-lanes and resurfaced few minutes later. The law enforcing agencies lobbed several rounds of tear smoke shells in an attempt to bring the situation under control. The clashes between the two sides continued till late in the evening. Similar clashes were witnessed in Batamaloo locality of the city after the Friday prayers in the afternoon. At least 12 persons were injured in the clashes. A youth was admitted to SKIMS hospital at Soura with bullet injury to his leg. Inayatullah Khan, 17, told police that he was hit by a bullet allegedly fired by CRPF personnel while chasing away a group assembled near the Punjab hotel, the scene of the 22-hour gun battle that ended yesterday.