Massive clashes near gun-battle site, five houses damaged
Two teenage local militants were among three killed and an Army man was injured in an 18-hour long fierce gunfight at Munjgund area on the outskirts of Srinagar city on Sunday.
Police said the gunfight which started at around 5:15 pm on Saturday ended at 11 am, after 18-hours, on Sunday.
“Three militants were killed, while arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of gunfight,” Police said.
Police said a search operation was launched Saturday evening following intelligence inputs about the presence of militants at Ghat Mohalla of Mujgund area on Bandipora Road.
“The hiding militants fired at the search party. The fire was retaliated, triggering a gunfight,” Police said. “An Army man was also injured in the initial exchange of gunfire.”
“Three civilians also sustained injuries as the area was in open. They were shifted to a hospital for medical treatment. They are stated to be stable,” Police said.
Sources said two militants were killed on Saturday night and the third was killed Sunday morning.
The slain militants were identified as Mudasir Rashid Parray, 14, and Saqib Bilal Sheikh, 17, both of Hajin in Bandipora district while Police said the third militant was a Pakistani identified as Ali. They were associated with Lashkar-e-Toiba militant outfit.
Police said Ali was involved in militant recruitment in Hajin and Sumbal areas of Bandipora.
Mudasir, who was a 9th standard student at a local secondary school and Saqib, who was an 11th standard science student at a local higher secondary school, had gone missing from their homes on August 31 after two LeT militants were killed in a gunfight with the government forces in Hajin on August 30 this year.
Earlier, a video in which Mudasir’s family is seen appealing him to return home was circulated on social media.
In the video, the family’s condition is seen to be pathetic as they reside in tin shed, while the parents say he was the only hope for the family.
Mudasir had left home, telling his family that he was going for play but he had joined militant ranks instead.
Sources said high beam lights were installed while tight cordon was maintained around the area to ensure militants do not escape.
Witnesses said during the 18-hour long gunfight, government forces used heavy arms and ammunition to kill the militants while five houses were damaged during the fierce gunfight.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir, Vidhi Kumar Birdi told Rising Kashmir that the gunfight was on during the night and it continued till Sunday morning.
“The gunfight ended at 11 am today,” he said.
DIG Birdi cited topography and weather conditions as the reason of the gunfight prolonging.
“The operation was launched in the evening and it was dark. The area is adjacent to a river. There was low approachability and the weather turned foggy in the night,” he said.
On whether the local militants were given a chance to surrender, Birdi said Police always follows the normal procedure.
“But when militants open fire, then the situation takes a different angle,” he said.
Clashes erupted between youth and government forces near the gunfight site soon after the gunfight erupted.
Witnesses said youth from Mujgund and its adjacent area thronged near the site of gunfight and threw stones at the government forces, who retaliated by firing tear smoke shells and pellets to control the stone-throwing youth.
They said as the night descended, clashes subsided.
However, as the gunfight resumed Sunday morning, clashes erupted again in the area.
The ding-dong battle between the youth and the government forces continued for hours during which several persons were injured.
A senior doctor said three injured patients were brought to SMHS hospital Srinagar for treatment.
“They had received pellet injuries and are stable,” he said.
Soon after the news about the killing of Mudasir and Saqib reached Hajin, hundreds of people took to roads to protest.
The protesters threw stones at government forces, triggering clashes in the area.
A massive gathering of people participated in the funeral prayers of the slain militants, who were buried in a local graveyard at Hajin.
Authorities had suspended internet service on mobile phones from midnight to prevent tensions from spiraling in Srinagar. The service was restored Sunday evening.