4 Army Jawans, LeT Comdr Among 7 Killed In Valley

25 May 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Four Army men and a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander were among 7 persons killed in three separate militancy related incidents across Kashmir valley today as Army foiled a major infiltration bid in Tanghdar sector of North Kashmir. Three Army men and a militant were killed and an Army officer was seriously injured in a fierce gunfight at Tanghdar sector in North Kashmir's Kupwara district along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan today. Sources said that a group of 6-7 militants last night sneaked into Kashmir near Darshan Post along Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan. The group of infiltrators was intercepted by the Army's 3-1 GR in the dense forest area near the LoC. The group after being challenged fired with sophisticated weapons upon the troops. The Army retaliated leading to fierce gun battle. In the initial gunfight, four Army men including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), Subedar B B Thapa, was seriously injured. However, among the injured, three soldiers succumbed before being evacuated to Srinagar for treatment. The condition of the officer is also said to be critical. The deceased soldiers have been identified as Lance Naik Aash Kumar, Rifleman Vishal Gurang and Rifleman Ankeet. Sources said that the group fled back to Pakistan leaving behind dead infiltrator. However, Army is conducting searches in the area to check if any of the infiltrators has been left behind. An Army spokesman said here that a patrol of a forward Battalion of Army led by a JCO, moving close to the LoC in the area of Tanghdar intercepted an infiltrating group of militants. 'In the heavy exchange of fire that followed, the infiltrating group was beaten back leaving behind one dead terrorist from whom one AK-47, one pistol and other items were recovered. During the firefight, four jawans sustained injuries of which three succumbed and one is out of danger. As per last reports, the operation is still in progress', the spokesman said. In the meantime, security forces today achieved a major success in South Kashmir by killing district commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) during an encounter in Yaripora area of Kulgam district. Police said that militants fired upon an Army vehicle near Kanjikula, Yaripora, this afternoon killing an Army jawan. 'The jawan was injured in the firing and was shifted to the Army's 92-Base Hospital in Srinagar where he succumbed to his injuries', police added. The Army man has been identified as Sepoy Dharam Ram. Soon after the attack, the Army and Police laid cordon around the village and conducted search operation. The search party was attacked again in an orchard, leading to a gun battle in which a militant was killed. The militant was later identified as Ayatullah Bhat alias Khoumaini alias Maaz who was functioning as district commander of LeT. 'Khoumaini was active since 2010 and was involved in various militant activities including killing of Sarpanch Gul Mohammad resident of Hawoora in 2012, killing and snatching of weapons from police and CRPF in Arwani and Awneera Shopian. He was also involved in the killing of Zakir Syed Bhat in Sangas, Kulgam', police said. Khoumaini a close associate of LeT divisional commander Abu Qasim was also instrumental in recruiting many youth into militancy including Abass Malla and Zubair Bhat. Earlier in the morning, militants fired at a franchisee outlet of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) at Iqbal Market in Sopore in North Kashmir's Baramulla district. Three employees of the BSNL franchisee were injured in the firing and they were rushed to a local hospital, where doctors referred them to SMHS hospital in Srinagar for treatment. One of the injured, Mohammad Rafiq, 26, of Handwara area of Kupwara district, succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. The two injured, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, 40 and Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone, 30, both residents of Sopore township, are being treated. Militants fled after carrying out the attack. Senior Police and Army officials reached the spot to review the situation. They cordoned off New Colony Sopore, Iqbal market and nearby orchards, however, no one was arrested. A police spokesman said that militants fired indiscriminately upon 'Iqra Telecommunications and Electronics' at Shah Fasil Market Sopore resulting in injuries to three persons including the owner of the Telecom franchisee Ghulam Mohammad Bhat son of Abdul Majid Bhat resident of Noor Bagh Sopore and two employees Mohammad Rafiq Dar son of Mohammad Akbar resident of Pohru Handwara and Imtiyaz Ahmad Lone son of Abdul Rashid Lone resident of Achabal, Sopore. 'All the injured were shifted to Sub District Hospital, Sopore for treatment where from they were referred to SMHS Hospital. Among the injured Mohammad Rafiq Dar son of Mohammad Akbar resident of Pohru Peth Handwara succumbed to his injuries. Rafiq is survived by 7 siblings including 3 sisters, 4 student brothers and parents', the spokesman said. The spokesman said that police have registered a case (FIR No 103-2015 under section 307 RPC, 302, 7-27 Act) and investigation has been taken up. This was the second militant attack in Sopore during two days in which cellular operators were targeted. Militants hurled two grenades at a mobile transmission tower to blow it up during intervening night of May 23 and 24. One of the grenades exploded without causing any harm and the other grenade remained unexploded and was defused by the police in the morning. Militants started targeting the telecom operators after communication equipment from mobile transmission towers installed by militants in Sopore went missing early this month.