5 terrorists killed; 14 shot dead in 4 days

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Security forces shot dead five terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Hizbul Mujahideen in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Wednesday, officials said after the third successful operation in the region in four days.

A top district commander of the Hizbul was gunned down in the encounter, according to officials who did not immediately reveal the identities of those killed. Officials also said the operation once again proved that the Pakistan-based LeT and the local Hizbul group were working together in the Valley.

Wednesday’s action was the third such operation within 96 hours in Shopian, considered a hotbed of militancy. While five terrorists were killed on Sunday, four more were shot dead the next day.

Following inputs of the presence of terrorists in Sugoo village, the police, Rashtriya Rifles and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) launched a joint cordon-and-search operation in the area early on Wednesday.

The terrorists fired at the security team, triggering a gunfight that lasted around eight hours, according to the police. After the encounter ended, the police recovered the bodies of the terrorists along with arms from their possession.

“I congratulate our forces for showing the highest order of professionalism, which led to no collateral damage,” Kashmir inspector general Vijay Kumar said. He added that the bodies of the terrorists were sent to Baramulla for last rites.

For the past one month, the police are not handing over the bodies of terrorists to their family members, fearing gatherings at funerals in violation of guidelines drafted to halt the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Twenty-two terrorists, including six top commanders, have been killed over the past two weeks in nine different operations in the region, Jammu and Kashmir director general of police Dilbag Singh said on Monday. He added then that a total of 88 terrorists had been killed since January in 36 operations.

On that day, terrorists gunned down a sarpanch, Ajay Pandita, in Anantnag district neighbouring Shopian. The police said the Hizbul was behind the killing.

On Wednesday, the police recovered the body of Tariq Ahmed Paul, a resident of Shopian, in the district’s Kongnu area. Paul lived close to the area where the four terrorists were killed in the Monday encounter. The police said he was kidnapped by terrorists and killed after being tortured. Paul’s house was damaged in the encounter in Pinjora village.

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