The overnight gunfight between the militants and a mixed contingent of counter-insurgent forces has concluded with the killing of five militants. The slain five reportedly included top Hizb commander Gulzar Ahmad Padder.
The encounter started on basis of a specific information that a group of militants were seen in the Chowgam village near Qazigund. Around midnight, the village was cordoned off. Though the counter-insurgent forces were able to locate a house where militants were staying, they had problems in quick operation because of the presence of the civilians in the same house.
Police sources said they took some time in evacuating the civilians from the house and later a contact was established. During wee hours, they killed the five militants – one had come out of the house and was killed immediately and four others got killed when the house collapsed over them. The CI forces used a landmine in the operation, reports said.
Police sources said they had been able to identify one of the five militants – Gulzar Ahmad Padder, the top militant commander, who was from Damhal Hanjipora. Along with him, another militant from the same Damhal locality was also killed. Police sources said Padder had given them a slip in a recent operation in the same district.
There are three more militants, one each from an Anantnag village, Yaripora and Kulgam. They have not been identified so far. One militant has been identified as Zahoor. Police suspect some of the slain militants could be from Lashkar-e-Toiba but it was not immediately confirmed.
The firing has stopped after the major blast but the bodies have not been retrieved. Police said they are busy searching the debris. The operation was carried out by Special Operations Group (SOG) Kulgam, 9-Rashtriya Rifles and a unit of the CRPF.
Since the operation took place during the dead of the night there were no reports of any protest or stone pelting, reports said. Police have imposed restrictions under section 144 in the entire belt. Trains services to the south have been suspended.
A police officer said it was the same group that killed a cop on the day of Eid.