2 Militants Killed In Handwara Gunbattle
29 June 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: A day after they left two soldiers dead and 22 others injured in an attack on an Army convoy, Police and security forces today killed both the Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba in a day-long battle in Handwara town in north Kashmir. SP Handwara, Dr Haseeb Mughal, told EXCELSIOR that Police and security forces had put themselves on maximum alert and mobilised all of their sources to eliminate the Lashkar-e-Toiba militants who had struck terror in a broad daylight attack on an Army convoy yesterday in Handwara outskirts near Marhatgam Chottipora on Handwara-Langet Road. He said that as many as 24 soldiers and two civilians had been left wounded, six of them critically. While two soldiers succumbed to injuries, four were still battling for life at a military hospital in Srinagar. He said that early in the morning today, Police managed to find out the hideout of two of the five militants involved in the attack. Police, followed by troops of RR 21-Bn, laid siege to Banday Mohalla locality in Handwara town, where, according to a tip off, both the militants were hiding at the residence of a medical store-keeper, Mohammad Amin Banday. Dr Mughal said that Police and security forces evacuated all the residents under the supervision of DIG north Kashmir, Dr B Srinivas, to ensure that no civilian casualty took place in the operation. During the course of the search operation, an encounter commenced between the holed up militants and security forces which lasted for ten hours. He said that both the holed up militants got killed in the gunbattle in which extensive damage was caused to Banday's house and a Maruti car. He claimed that no civilian was harmed in the gunbattle though two of the soldiers sustained gunshot wounds. Two AK-47 rifles, six magazines and some diaries and documents were recovered from the two militants killed. Both militants according to SP Handwara, were unidentified but believed to be Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba. SOG Handwara and RR 30-Bn conducted a raid at Shat Gund near Handwara today but failed to get either any militants or any weapons. Meanwhile, reports from Kupwara said that people observed a shutdown with the allegation that two militants and two civilians had been gunned down by Police in a 'fake encounter' yesterday. They challenged the official version that three 'fidayeen' were killed in an encounter and a woman got killed in the crossfiring. After Friday prayers, people at some places in Kupwara led a protest demonstrations. They shouted slogans against Police and district authorities. Reports said that the mob resorted to beating up of a Dy SP and stone pelting on some residential and commercial structures. Reports said that the local Bar Association and a traders' union led the protest demonstration. Police officials said that the situation was under control. They dismissed the residents' version as a 'cooked up story' and claimed that all the three men were trained militants. 'Why should Police have conducted such kind of a drama and killed even a civilian eyewitness when it could have done the same in darkness or at a deserted place?' an official asked. He claimed that the gunbattle took place and progressed to its end with the death of three militants and a woman who was hit in the head at her residence nearby.