April 2018 News

Gunfight In Tral Forest Leaves 4 Militants, Cop, Army Soldier Dead

24 April 2018
Kashmir Reader
Mohammad Suhail

Srinagar: Two local militants and two Pakistani militants are believed to have been killed in a day-long encounter in the forest area of Laam in Tral, during which a policeman who was himself from Tral and an army soldier from Himachal Pradesh also lost their lives. Police said they were still trying to ascertain the identity of the killed militants, but sources told Kashmir Reader that two of the slain were of Pakistani origin and two locals of Tral. One of the local militants killed, sources said, is the son of a police constable. The army man killed during the encounter was identified as Ajay Kumar of Himachal Pradesh and the slain policeman was Latief Ahmad Gojri, a resident of Tral. The encounter was triggered at about 7:30 AM Tuesday morning in the dense forest area of Laam in Tral, where the militants were hiding. 'We had credible inputs regarding their presence in the area,' a senior police official from the area said, adding that the militants opened fire as soon as they were located and were being cornered. The militants, as per police, opened heavy fire and vanished into the dense forest. 'The initial fire left an army man injured, who succumbed on the way as he was being airlifted to army's base hospital in Srinagar,' the police official said. CM pays tributes to slain personnel Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has paid tributes to an army soldier and a policeman killed during a gunfight at Tral Tuesday. The Chief Minister has extended her heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of the slain personnel. She also conveyed her sympathies to the personnel injured in the incident. A massive hunt to track down the militants was launched afresh by the government forces, this time employing choppers to do so. A few hours later, contact was established with the militants, yet again, triggering a fresh round of exchange of fire between the two sides. 'The exchange of fire continued for a few hours and during the course of it all four militants and one of our policemen were killed,' the official said, adding that the bodies of all four militants were retrieved and sent for medico-legal and identification formalities. The operation, the official said, was over and the area was being sanitised now. In the morning, meanwhile, soon after the news of the encounter spread in Tral area, clashes erupted in the main town and in Batpora area between local youth and government forces. The clashes continued for a while as the local youth tried blocking roads leading to Laam in a bid to thwart forces being rushed to the area. Some youth had also tried to march towards the site of the encounter but returned after there were reports that the militants had managed to escape. The clashes, too, died down after the initial outburst. In the evening, as the news of local militants having been killed reached people, hundreds marched towards Handoora and Khangund villages, the native villages of the two militants believed to be killed. The number of people assembling at these villages was swelling as per reports while this report was being filed, despite the authorities snapping mobile internet services in the area and heavy deployment of forces on roads leading to the villages. The local militants believed to have been killed are Ishfaq Ahmad Khan, son of Ghulam Nabi Khan of Handoora Tral, and Abid Maqbool Bhat, son of Muhammad Maqbool of Khangund Tral. Abid is the son of a police constable, Muhammad Maqbool, and had joined the JeM ranks only last month. Ishfaq was an active militant since one-and-a-half year ago. He was the paternal cousin of a slain Hizb commander, Abid Khan. Abid Khan's father is also a police Head Constable. Sources told Kashmir Reader that one of the slain Pakistani militants was named Umar Khalid. The other one was yet to be identified. Meanwhile,heavy teargas shelling was going on outside police station Aripal Tral, where bodies of militants have been kept.

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