2 Pak Militants Of Jaish Killed In Gunbattle
24 October 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: In yet another joint operation in Bandipore area in north Kashmir, Police and security forces have killed two of the top wanted Pakistani militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit. With this, nearly 30 militants have been eliminated by armed forces in the current year and the situation appears to be limping back to normal in the Valley's number one flashpoint of insurgency. Informed official sources told EXCELSIOR that working on a specific operation, troops of 23-Punjab and SOG Bandipore, who was later also joined by a unit of 10 Para, launched a cordon-and-search operation at Khoshi Mohalla Brar, near Chitti Bandi village, in Bandipore today. According to the tip off, two Pakistani militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad were hiding at the residence of one Ghulam Hassan Paswal. When troops challenged the militants with some gunshots to come out for surrender, both the militants retaliated and made unsuccessful attempts to escape. It triggered off a major gunbattle which continued for several hours. Troops finally destroyed the target house, killing both the holed up militants. They were identified as Jaish's 'District Commander', Saquib, and 'Battalion Commander' Abu Huzaifa alias Ghazi Baba. Officials said that both of them were Pakistani nationals, reportedly operating in Bandipore-Sopore belt for the last over five years. Two AK-56 rifles were recovered from their possession. Reports from Bandipore said that watching recovery of charred dead bodies, a number of people gathered and staged a demonstration with the allegation that troops had destroyed some houses 'unnecessarily' and that the dead bodies had been recovered 'disgracefully'. Official insisted that troops had of course killed the two militants but had not shown any contempt for their dead bodies. They said that the bodies were buried after the same were properly handed over to the local Auqaf. They said that the operation was a success as both the militants got killed and neither the troops nor the civilians did suffer any casualty. They admitted that two soldiers, one each from 10 Para and SOG Bandipore, sustained minor injuries in the gunbattle. Official sources informed that nearly 30 militants had got killed in gunbattles with Police and security forces this year in Bandipore belt which was still enjoying the dubious distinction of number one flashpoint of insurgency in Kashmir valley. They said it was mainly after the Lashkar-e-Toiba terror Salah-ud-din returned to his home in Pakistan that Police and security forces achieved major successes against militants operating in Bandipore area. In the last 10 months, almost entire medium and top rung leadership of formidable guerrilla outfits has been wiped out in Bandipore. Top commanders eliminated this year include Jehan Zeb of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Abu Moosa alias Abu Wafa of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Shaheen and Danish of Harkatul Mujahideen, Abu Hamza of Jamiatul Mujahideen, Faisal of Al-Badar and Nazir Ahmed Dar of Hizbul Mujahideen. According to these sources, Hizbul Mujahideen's 'Divisional Commander' Dawood of Papchhan village was now the most wanted militant in Bandipore area. These sources said that notwithstanding considerable reverses this year, some 20 militants of Jaish, Harkat, Lashkar and Hizb were still operating in Bandipore belt. Earlier this year, all the holed up militants had broken the cordon and escaped while killing three soldiers of Army and one SOG personnel at Rampore village. However, killing of a father-son duo in Kudara resulted in generating alienation among the people vis-à-vis militants and as many as 10 militants have been eliminated over specific informations in the same area in the last four months. Compared to year 2003, when angry people had beaten up some PDP workers and dismantled the stage which had been raised for the party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, situation appeared to be near- normal in Bandipore this year. Earlier this year, Mufti Sayeed addressed a 4,000-strong gathering days after Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad drew a massive attendance of 8,000 people for his first and, till date, last political rally of his party in Bandipore. The ruling coalition leaders were followed by the National Conference chief Omar Abdullah's rally in which over 2,000 people are estimated to have participated. A known hub of militancy, Bandipore has been receiving hordes of infiltrating militants from Lolab-Kandi forest belt of Kupwara district as also some from Rajwarh, Ramhal and Rafiabad areas in Baramulla and Kupwara districts. Officials maintain that replenishments have been going to Sopore on one side and Sumbal- Ganderbal-Kangan on the other side mainly from Bandipore. Some of the top wanted militants, arrested or eliminated since last year in Bandipore and Srinagar, have been found involved in grenade and firing incidents, besides fidayeen attacks on armed forces in Srinagar. Officials here insist that the militants who had planned or executed attacks on Police personnel and high profile politicians and installations in the capital city, had mostly come in from Bandipore area.