October 2001 News

Militants stay put in J&K mosque

27 October 2001
The Times of India

SRINAGAR: Security forces in Kashmir on Sunday tightened their cordon around a mosque where separatist militants had barricaded themselves since Saturday, police said.In a separate incident, two security officials died in an encounter with Muslim militants in north Kashmir, police said.Counter-insurgency police, assisted by the Army and para- military border guards on Sunday moved closer to a mosque in Panzan, near Chadoora township, 30 km east of Srinagar, where several militants are holed-up since Saturday afternoon.''The cordon was tightened as repeated peaceful attempts to bring-out the militants from the mosque failed,'' a police official said in Srinagar. Security forces have been making appeals on loudspeakers asking the militants to surrender.''Even the village elders have failed to make them surrender,'' a police official said, adding there was no exchange of fire between the two sides during the night. However, residents said they heard intermittent gun shots.Bulletproof bunker vehicles of the Border Security Force (BSF) have moved closer to the mosque - one of the biggest in Chadoora. ''Our effort will be to bring them out without causing any damage to the structure,'' a police official said.Police added that one of the two militants inside a house near the mosque was killed in the initial firing. The two, alongwith other militants, had moved into the mosque and the house on Saturday after security forces sealed the village following a tip-off.In a similar situation on May 30, Indian security forces provided safe passage to three militants in south Kashmir to prevent damage to a mosque where they were hiding.However, immediately after that authorities made it clear no mercy would be shown to the militants taking refuge at religious places any more.A stand-off in a mosque in May 1995 lasted for two months at Chrar-e-Sharief, and ended with the destruction of the 600-year-old shrine.Meanwhile, an assistant commandant of BSF and assistant sub-inspector of counter-insurgency police were killed when militants opened fire at a security force raiding party in north Kashmir district of Kupwara.The incident took place at Chak Natnoosa late on Saturday, when BSF and counter-insurgency police ringed a hideout to arrest militants. The militants opened fire killing two security officials and then fled the village.


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