Gun fight ends, militant killed
8 September 2005
Srinagar: Minutes after Aamir Khan appeared on the screen as 'Mangal Pandey' at Neelam Cinema here on Wednesday afternoon, two militants challenged the security forces guarding the theatre. An alert policeman shot dead one of them, while the other fled and took refuge in an adjacent house. The gun battle that ensued ended this morning. Witnesses said the two militants, believed to be a suicide squad, appeared from Gur Bazar locality. They indiscriminately opened fire and lobbed a grenade despite the presence of a large security force and the police. But before they could move towards the Secretariat, the policeman opened fire, killing one militant. In the confusion, the second militant took shelter in the nearby house. He hurled grenades at the security forces and opened fire. The intermittent firing continued throughout the night and the militant was killed this morning. 'We killed him around 10.15 a.m. He was the lone militant hiding there,' said Muneer Khan, Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar. He said the police observed restraint to avoid collateral damage. Three inmates of the house were evacuated. The attack was not aimed at the Secretariat, which houses the offices of the Chief Minister, Ministers and top officials. The militants' intention was to storm a CRPF camp near the cinema hall. The identity of the militants, believed to be foreigners, was being ascertained. Three CRPF jawans were injured and a policeman was killed. Three hardline rebel groups, the Harkat Mujahideen, the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the al Mansurain, claimed responsibility for Wednesday's incident. It was a joint operation against the police, a local news agency quoted them as saying. Neelam Cinema is the only theatre operational in the Kashmir Valley since militants imposed a ban on screening films in 1990. Partial response A strike called by separatist groups against the State Government's decision to invoke the Public Safety Act against Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Asiya Andrabi and eight others evoked partial response. Shops, business establishments, educational institutions and some private offices remained closed in the commercial hub of Lal Chowk. But life was almost normal in the civil lines and other suburbs. Transport services plied as usual in view of Me'raj Alam celebrations. The hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and the Kashmir Bar Association gave the strike call. A spokesman for Mr. Geelani alleged that the Hurriyat leader was placed under house arrest. He said a police contingent cordoned off his Hyderpora residence early this morning.