Five Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants, including the one involved in last year’s deadly attack on a cash van in which five policemen and two bank guards lost their lives, were killed in an encounter in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir Saturday, police said.
Security forces launched a search operation late on Friday night in Chowgam area of Qazigund in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district based on inputs about the presence of militants in the area, a police spokesman said. He said during the search operation, militants fired on the search party.
“First, the civilians were moved away from the site of encounter to safer locations. Security forces then engaged the terrorists…,” the spokesman said. He said in the ensuing gunfight, five militants were killed.
“This was a group of terrorists belonging to proscribed outfits HM and LeT,” the spokesman said. He said the killed militants have been identified as Gulzar Ahmad Paddar alias Saif, a resident of Adijan, Kulgam; Faisal Ahmad Rather alias Dawood, a resident of Yamrach, Kulgam; Zahid Ahmad Mir alias Hashim, a resident of Okey, Kulgam; Masroor Molvi alias Abu Darda, a resident of Fatehpora, Anantnag; and Zahoor Ahmad Lone alias Rehman Bhai, a resident of Nagnad Noorabad Damhal Hanjipora in Kulgam.
The spokesman said Paddar was a close associate of Altaf Kachroo -– a top HM commander who was killed in an encounter in Anantnag last month.
“Paddar was involved in a series of terror attacks including the killings of five police personnel at Pambay last year (on 1 May) along with two bank employees,” the spokesman said, referring to the deadly attack on a bank cash van which was waylaid by a group of heavily armed militants who then pulled out of the vehicle the five police personnel and two bank employees and shot them from point blank range,” the spokesman said.
He said Paddar was also involved in the killing of an special police officer at Krewan Chidder in Kulgam.
“Besides, he was involved in looting police guards at Damhaal and weapon snatching cases reported across Kulgam and many other bank robbery cases attempted in the area,” the spokesman said.
Mir was wanted for his involvement in the killing of policeman Fayaz Ahmad of Zainapora on Eid last month, he said, adding Rather was involved in the killing of policeman Gowhar Ahmad in Shopian last year.
“Lone and Molvi were involved in a series of terror offences besides recruitment bid in the locality,” the spokesman said.
Arms and ammunition were also seized from the site of encounter, the spokesman said, adding police have registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter.
Meanwhile, clashes broke out near the site of the encounter as groups of youths started pelting stones on the forces, the official said.
He said a few youths have been injured in the forces’ action on the protesters.
Train services between Baramulla and Qazigund and mobile internet services in Anantnag and Kulgam have been suspended due to apprehensions of law and order problems.