4 Pak Militants, Soldier Killed In Geelani Village
12 November 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Four Pakistani militants, two each of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba, got killed today in yet another gunbattle in Sopore area of Baramulla district where two militants and a soldier died in an armed clash on Saturday and Sunday. Officials also confirmed death of one soldier and said that four more personnel of Army and SOG sustained injuries in today's gunfight in Dooru-residential village of senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Sopore area. Meanwhile, a top wanted Kashmiri militant of Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit has been killed by security forces in another encounter in Pulwama district. Informed sources told EXCELSIOR that Sopore Police and troops of Rashtriya Rifles 22 Bn launched a joint cordon-and-search operation at Dooru, Sopore, where, according to a specific information, some Pakistani militants of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba were hiding at the residences of Altaf Hajam and Farooq Hajam last evening. During the operation, a fierce gunbattle took place between the holed up militants and security forces- Police which continued overnight. A top wanted Harkat commander, Bilal Afghani, exposed himself in a suicide style when he went close to SOG's armoured bunker and continued intense firing and lobbying of grenades on it in the wee hours. He was gunned down in retaliatory firing. It was at 0730 hours that Harkat's more wanted and the most dreaded commander, Qari Umar, gunned down a soldier of RR 22 Bn but he too was killed in fierce retaliation. Officials claimed that Qari was the organisation's 'Deputy Chief' for Jammu and Kashmir. Sources said that over 300 residents of Geelani's village gathered and formed a demonstration as rumours spread that troops had opened fire on the civilian population. According to officials, it was an attempt to force Police and security forces to call off operation. Police used a baton charge and dispersed the crowds which shouted pro-Azadi and anti-Army slogans. It was in this disturbance that some people passed on information to Police and Army, while claiming that two more militants were still hiding on Farooq Hajam's house. This time, escort personnel of Dy SP Operation, Mukesh, zeroed in on Hajam's house and gunned down two militants in a fierce gunbattle. One of them was identified as Abu Faris alias Daanish alias Shamsheer. Abu Faris had been reportedly active with militancy in the last five years. Officials asserted that Abu Faris, who had also married off a local young woman, had been associated with most of the major fidayeen and other attacks on forces and soft targets in Srinagar- Bandipore belt. After the arrest, followed by custodial killing of Muddasar Gojri alias Raju, in 2006, Abu Faris had planned and executed most of the Lashkar's fidayeen attacks and other assaults on Police and security forces. In addition to over a dozen civilian killings, Abu Faris was believed to be responsible for over a dozen strikes on Police and security forces in Bandipore-Srinagar belt in the last two years. Officials said that he had figured as a top wanted militant of Lashkar-e-Toiba in north Kashmir in the last five years. According to them, he had also planned and executed Saturday's suicide strike in Sopore town which finally ended with the death of two militants and a soldier yesterday. PRO Defence, Col Manjinder Singh, claimed that Army left five militants dead even as one of the soldiers also got killed. Police officials asserted that two SOG personnel, namely head constable Masood Ahmed and constable Kafeel Ahmed, besides two soldiers, sustained injuries in the gunbattle. One of the injured soldiers was identified as Captain Tejas of RR 22 Bn. Officials said that Qari Umar of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen had remained very active with militancy in Lolab valley of Kupwara district in the last seven years. According to reports, he had shifted his area of operation towards Sopore recently. Sources said that three residential houses were destroyed in today's gunfight while as over a dozen houses suffered partial damage. They, nevertheless, claimed that the operation was a success as none of the civilians had got injured or killed during the gunfight. On Saturday and Sunday, two suicide militants had got killed, alongwith one soldier, in a fidayeen attack by Lashkar militants in Sopore town. A couple of days earlier, three militants and four soldiers, including a Major of RR 52 Bn, had died in a fierce gunbattle in Sad Mohalla, Sopore. About a dozen Army and Police personnel had sustained injuries in the three- day-long operation, which also left a number of residential houses either destroyed fully or damaged in part. Meanwhile, sources said that troops of RR 55 Bn killed a top wanted Kashmiri commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad in a gunbattle at Mandina, in outskirts of Pulwama town in south Kashmir today. He was identified as Mushtaq Ahmed Sofi alias Zahid Sofi S-o Mohammad Khaleel R-o Hanjan, Pulwama. Officials said that he was a 'battalion commander' with Jaish-e-Mohammad.