HizbulMujahideen operational commander MuhammedYasinItoo aka MehmoodGaznavi was among three militants killed in a “major” counter-insurgency operation in Shopian’sAwneera village that began on Saturday afternoon. Two army soldiers were killed and three others wounded in the two-hour gun battle during which an estimated more than seven militants escaped. A one-storey residential house where the three slain militants were trapped was razed to the ground during the operation.
After the gunfight was over, clashes between civilians and government troops were reported from Zainpora, Awneera, Chermarag, Bapora areas of Shopian district. Fifteen persons were injured in these clashes, two of them with bullets and one with pellet injuries in the eyes. “One person had bullet injury in his abdomen, another had bullet injury on the upper part of his right leg, and one had pellet injuries in the eyes. These three were referred to Srinagar and the others were treated at the Zainpora primary health centre (PHC),” Abdul GanniRaina, Block Medical Officer of Zainpora, said.
Government forces had started the operation on “specific inputs of presence of a dozen of militants in Awneer village”. As the cordon was being laid, militants fired from residential houses and the majority of them gave the slip to government forces, except three who were trapped in one house.
The slain militants were identified as IrfanulHaq from Maldair village of Shopian, Umar Majeed from KatporaKulgam, and HizbulMujahideen operational commander MuhammedYaseenItoo aka MehmoodGaznavi. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Shopian, SA Dinkar, confirmed the identities of the slain militants and the killing of two army soldiers.
Meanwhile, massive clashes erupted in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Sunday after locals heard the news of death of Hizb commander YaseenIatoo.
Youth took to streets and threw stones on forces deployed in the area. The forces retaliated by firing teargas shells, triggering clashes.Meanwhile,the death toll in alleged security force firing has risen to two in South Kasmir, where people hit the streets after three HizbulMujahideen (HM) militants, including a self styled top commander, were killed
Two Army soldiers were also killed and three others wounded in the encounter. The authorities have already suspended internet service in Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam and Chadoora in Badgam. Security forces fired pellets after repeated lathicharge and bursting of teargas shells failed to have any impact on demonstrators who were pelting stones, protesting against the killing of HM militants at several places, including at Shopian and Kakpora in Pulwama last evening. Two youths identified as Owais Ahmad Dar and Mohammad SayeedBhat and several others were injured in security force action. Dar and Bhat were rushed to local hospital from where they were referred to Srinagar. Dar died on arrival to hospital, while Bhat succumbed later in the night. All educational institutions were closed today as a precautionary measure while examinations have also been postponed in the Kashmir valley.