Six militants, soldier killed in escalating Kashmir terror violence
Srinagar, May 27 (IANS) At least six militants and a soldier were killed in two separate Kashmir gun battles on Friday amid flared up terrorist activities in the restive valley following increased levels of infiltration from across the border with Pakistan, officials said.
They said four militants were killed in a prolonged gunfight that began on Thursday morning in a north Kashmir village near the Line of Control – the de facto border that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Two more militants were gunned down in another battle near Tangmarg, the gateway to the famed Gulmarg tourist resort, also in north Kashmir.
Security forces in the state have been on high alert since militants gunned down three policemen in shoot-and-run attacks in Srinagar on Monday. Two terrorists, including a Jaish-e-Mohammed commander, were also killed in a gunfight with security forces in the heart of the city on the same day amid reports that more militants had entered the valley and were planning attacks.
The violent incidents are the latest in a series of deadly militant activities in the Kashmir Valley since the beginning of this summer as melting snow opened up the mountain passes that Pakistan-based militants rely on for mobility.
Highly placed intelligence sources told IANS that there has definitely been an increase in the number of infiltration attempts from across the border. They said while most such attempts have been foiled but many militants may have succeeded in crossing over to this side with arms and ammunition.
“Some 40-45 militants have managed to come to this side. This is definitely higher than what has been the normal for the past few years,” said an intelligence official.
But the overall situation in the state, according to the officials, was not disturbing at all. They said security forces have mostly been able to eliminate militants in the hinterlands before they succeeded in moving into populated areas, like the prolonged gunfight at Toot Maar Ghali in Nowgam sector of the de facto border in Kupwara district that ended on Friday.
A soldier, identified as Havaldar Hangpang Dada, 36, of Arunachal Pradesh, was also killed in the shootout. He had served the Indian Army for 19 years. Army officials told IANS that security forces were still combing the densely forested area.
The identity and group affiliation of the slain militants was not immediately known. However, a senior police official said it was “most likely” that they belonged to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group who had infiltrated recently into the Kashmir Valley.
The security officials said the Tangmarg battle began after security forces raided a residential house in a village, some 35 km from here.
They said the house in the north Kashmir Baramulla district was surrounded after a tip-off that two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were hiding inside. The forces used explosives to demolish suspected militant hideout and the bodies of the two militants were recovered from the debris.
The slain militants were identified as Mehraj Bhat of Pattan and Aadil Ahmad of Sopore. Two AK series rifles and arms and ammunition were recovered from the shootout site.
A soldier was also injured in the Tangmarg shootout.