Kashmir Indepth

Top LeT commander among  2 militants, minor boy killed as Hajin gunfight ends

Suhail Khan

Srinagar, Mar 21:  Two militants, one of them a top commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba,  and a minor boy were killed during a gunfight in Hajin area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Friday.

Reports reaching said a joint team of Army’s 13RR, CRPF and SOG launched a cordon at Mir Mohalla of Hajin late on Thursday.

A police officer said the operation was launched following credible inputs about the presence of some militants in the area.

As the joint team of forces approached the suspected house, the hiding militants fired upon them, triggering off an encounter. The operation was suspended for the night and resumed at the crack of the dawn, he said.

Both the militants were killed in the encounter, he said. The teenage boy who was taken “hostage” also died, the officer added.

A police spokesman said that Initially, the militants kept two civilians as hostages. However police and security forces with the assistance of community members safely rescued one civilian Abdul Hameed a 60-year-old man.

“Another civilian a 12-year-old boy Aatif Mir was kept hostage by the militants till the end and despite repeated requests by community members and police for his release, he was brutally killed by them and could not be rescued from their clutches,” the spokesman said.

Militants then fired on the security forces who engaged them in an encounter after the civilians in the adjoining areas had been evacuated to safer places. In the ensuing encounter, 02 militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of the encounter, the spokesman said.

From the incriminating material recovered at the site of the encounter, it is understood that the two slain militants were Pakistani nationals identified as Ali and Hubaib. As per the police records, both were affiliated with LeT outfit, the spokesman said.

“They were wanted by law for their complicity in a series of terror crimes including attacks on security force establishments and civilian atrocities. According to the police records they were also responsible for conspiring and executing many terror attacks in the area. Several terror crime cases were registered against them,” the spokesman said.

Official sources said that the house belonging to Abdul Hamid Mir was razed to rubble during the gunfight and all the three bodies were charred. Police and army also recovered two Ak-47 rifles. Among the two militants killed, one is said to be ‘Ali Bhai’, a top commander of LeT who was active in the area for several years. However, the identity and group affiliation of the slain militants was not official confirmed so far.

Army spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia in a statement issued to said that two militants were killed in the encounter.

“Bodies of the slain militants along with weapons and warlike stores recovered,” the spokesman said, adding that search operation in the area is still in progress. (GNS)


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