Bodies of the three Lashkar-e-Toiba militants, including its top commander Junaid Matoo, who were killed in an encounter with the police and security forces in Arwani area of Kulgam, have been recovered from the encounter site. Mattoo’s name was in the 12 most wanted militants list issued recently by the Army. He carried a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on his head and was wanted in many cases.
A police spokesman said acting on specific information, the police, along with 1 Rashtriya Rifles battalion and 90 Bn CRPF, launched an operation in Makro Mohalla of Arwani on Friday.”During the operation, militants present in the area fired upon the search parties with automatic weapons.The fire was retaliated, and an encounter started.When the encounter was on an unruly mob instigated by the militants started pelting the security forces with stones with the intention of disturbing the operation and giving a chance to holed-up militants to escape Some of the militants also fired from within the crowd indiscriminately on the security forces engaged in the encounter.In the cross-firing some people were injured.
The injured were shifted to hospital. Two civilians later succumbed to their injuries,” the spokesman said.Locals, however, claimed that the two protesters were killed by security forces when they were trying to march to the gunfight site.The militants killed in encounter have been identified as Junaid Matto, Nasir Wani and Adil Mushtaq Mir. Arms and ammunition, including AK rifles, magazines and grenades, have been recovered from the site.“Junaid, a notorious militant, was the district commander and was involved in a number of terror activities. He was involved in the killing of a police constable at Bogund in Kulgam on June 15. He was involved in the Mirbazar police party attack where police official Mehmood was martyred.He was also involved in the killing of an ASI and a constable near Anantnag bus stand last year,” the spokesman said.
He said Nasir Wani and Adil had joined militancy last year.When the anti-militancy operation was underway on Friday, militants of Lashkar ambushed a police vehicle in the neighbouring Anantnag district, in which six cops, including a Station House Officer (SHO), Achabal Feroz Dar, were killed. There are speculations that the attack might have been carried out in retaliation to the killing of Mattoo.J&K Director General of Police SP Vaid said militants fired at the policemen from a close range.”The close range firing disfigured the faces of martyred policemen,” Vaid told the Tribune. “The militants escaped with five rifles,’’
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