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Six militants killed in two encounters in Kashmir, third gunfight on

Six militants killed in two encounters in Kashmir, third gunfight on
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Six militants were killed in two separate encounters in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district and south Kashmir’s Anantnag Thursday while another gunfight was on in Pulwama district, police said.

Police said that on a specific information about presence of militants in a house at Aathora village of Baramulla, the army’s Rashtriya Rifles, special operation group of J&K police and the Central Reserve Police Force launched a cordon and search operation, which turned into an encounter that ended on Thursday evening with the killing of two militants. Both the militants were affiliated to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Baramulla’s senior superintendent of police Imtiaz Hussain said police made several efforts to persuade the militants to surrender but they refused. “In the encounter, two militants were killed and they have not been identified. We are trying our level best to ascertain identities of both the militants,’’ he said.

Sources, however, said that both the militants are locals, residents of Khanpora area of Baramulla town. They identified one of the militants as Shoaib Akhoon, a prominent commander of the Lashkar and another as Akeel Ahmad Sofi.

Protests broke out in the area as locals demanded both bodies and said the police asked family members of two youths to visit the police station on Friday evening to identify the bodies.

According to police, Akhoon had joined militant ranks in November last year in November, while Sofi had been missing since June 2018. Officials said both were active in the outskirts of Baramulla and Sopore towns and police have been trying to nab Akhoon for the past few months as they had blamed him for trying to lure youth into militancy.

Akhoon, 23, according to the family, was a BSc second year student when he joined militant ranks as he was frequently called to the police station and harassed. Denying the allegations, police said that Akhoon had visited Pakistan in August last year and received training at a Lashkar camp. “Once he came to know that police got clues about his training, he went missing and joined militant ranks,” said a police officer.

Another encounter began in Arwani village in Anantnag after army and police launched a joint operation in the area on receiving information about presence of militants in the area. As the operation was underway, clashes erupted between the security forces and villagers who were trying to help the holed-up militants escape.

A police spokesman said that four militants were killed in the encounter which is still underway. “ Four militants were killed in the encounter and efforts are on to identify the militants.”

Meanwhile, another operation is in progress at Lam Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, a police spokesman said.

Since Sunday, 11 militants have been killed in three separate encounters across Kashmir, including Sabzar Ahmad Sofi, whose family said he was a research scholar. Seven civilians were also killed in an explosion at Kulgam village soon after an encounter ended on Sunday.

Shutdown in Valley

A strike was observed in the Valley against the killing of research scholar-turned-militant Sofi who was killed in an encounter along with another militant on the outskirts of Srinagar on Wednesday. The call for shutdown was given by the Joint Resistance Leadership. The shops remained closed, but traffic was not affected.

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