Authorities impose curfew in Pulwama town; Internet suspended in district; Clashes in area
PULWAMA: A Lashkar-e-Toiba commander and two militants were killed in an overnight encounter that raged in New Colony area of Southern district of Pulwama, police said Wednesday.
A police official said that told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that joint teams of Police, Army’s 55 RR and CRPF launched a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) on specific information about the presence of militants in the New Colony area late on Tuesday night after receiving a specific leads about the presence of militants in a house.
The official said that as the joint teams of forces approached towards the suspected house, the hiding militants opened fire, which was retaliated, after which heavy exchange of gunfire took place. “The exchange of fire remained on intermittently throughout the night and with the first light of the day on Wednesday, three militants were killed in a final assault.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar told KNO that three militants including a foreign LeT commander Aijaz alias Abu Huraira were killed in Pulwama operation. He congratulated the security forces for successful operation. Witnesses, however, told KNO that the house where militants were hiding suffered immense damage during the encounter.
Soon after the encounter ended, the authorities in Pulwama imposed strict curfew in main town as a precautionary measure while as internet services remained suspended.
An official said that curfew was imposed in entire Pulwama town “as a precautionary measure” to avert any untoward incident. “Announcements were made in the town about the curfew,” the official said. Locals of Pulwama, however, said that soon after encounter youth hit the streets and engaged forces in clashes at main town.
POLICE VERSION: A police spokesman in a statement to KNO said that acting on a specific information generated by Srinagar Police about presence of militants in New Colony, Hospital Road area of Pulwama, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by Police, Army(55RR )and CRPF.
“During the search operation, the civilians were evacuated to safer places and as the presence of militants got ascertained, they were given an opportunity to surrender, however they fired indiscriminately at the joint search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter,” the police spokesman said. “Due to darkness the operation was suspended, while the cordon remained intact .Taking advantage of darkness militants tried to escape, however they couldn’t not. In the wee hours, repeated announcements were again made to hiding militants to surrender, but the militants again fired on joint search party and the fire was retaliated.”
The police spokesman said that in the ensuing encounter, three militants of LeT outfit were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. “They have been identified as LeT commander Aijaz alias Abu Huraira, resident of Pakistan, Javeed Ahmad Rather son of Abdul Ganie Rather, resident of Tahab Pulwama, and Shahnawaz Nazir Ganie son of Nazir Ahmad Ganie, resident of Samboora, Awantipora.”
The police spokesman said that as per police records, all the slain were part of group involved in various incidents. The killed foreign militant was instrumental in recruiting innocent youth into militancy besides, planning and executing several attacks in the area.
ARMY VERSION: A defence spokesman in a statement said that acting on a specific intelligence about the presence of militants in the built up area of New Colony, Pulwama, operation was launched by troops of Panzgom, Pulwama based Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, JKP and CRPF at 11:55 pm on Tuesday. “As the troops were laying cordon at 01:20 AM, the militants opened fire on the troops and tried to escape taking advantage of darkness,” the spokesman said in a statement to KNO. “Alert troops immediately returned fire and trapped the fleeing militants in a house. A call for surrender was given but militants continued firing indiscriminately and a fire fight ensued.”
The defence spokesman said that in an eight-hour-long operation, Aijaz alias Abu Huraira, a Pakistani militant and two other militants identified as Javed Rather, of Tahab, Pulwama and Shahnawaz Gani of Samboora, Pampore belonging to LeT outfit were killed. “Two AK-47 rifles, one pistol and other war like stores were recovered from the encounter site,” the police spokesman said, adding that “as per Police the slain militants were involved in many anti national activities and in recruitment process in South Kashmir.”