‘Three militants’, civilian killed in ongoing Arwani encounter; dozens wounded in clashes

Srinagar, Dec 8: (GNS) ‘Three militants’ and a civilian were killed in an ongoing encounter in Hussanpora Tabela village of Arwani area in south Kashmir. Dozens of protesters have been injured in pro-militant clashes in several areas while mobile and internet services were disrupted in Anantnag and Kulgam districts since early morning.

Police sources said the encounter in the village raged after forces, acting on a tip-off, cordoned off Hussanpora and launched searches last evening. The militants who were hiding in the area opened fire on search parties and same was retaliated, triggering an encounter.

Sources said that there were reports of presence of most-wanted militant commander, Abu Dujana, but police and army refused to confirm or deny his presence. The operation was halted in night hours and resumed in the morning, the sources added. There was no further information about Dujana but some reports said he may have escaped.

According to police sources, heavy exchange of gunfire occurred between the two sides today and in the ensuing firefight, three local militants were reportedly killed. However, the sources were quick to add, none of the bodies were recovered from the spot. They said that when the forces were trying to go close to the house where militants were holed up, they were being fired upon, indicating there may be more militants.

In view of the apprehensions of the outbreak of massive protests as reports were circulating about Dujana’s presence, authorities this morning as a preventive measure directed telecom operators to shutdown mobile and internet services in Anantnag and Kulgam districts. Only BSNL was reported to be working.

As the gunfight was going on, hundreds of locals came out of their houses and pelted stones on troops involved in counter-insurgency operation at Hussanpora last evening and today morning. The clashes also erupted today at Khudwani, Arwani, Bijbehera, Anantnag, Newa and Sangam.

Reports said dozens of civilians sustained injuries in these clashes as police used teargas and pellets against them. One civilian namely Arif Ahmad Shah son of Mohammad Khalil Shah resident of Gund Baba, Sangam in Anantnag near encounter site at Hussanpora in firing. Police said he was killed after being hit by a stray bullet.

A police spokesman said in a statement here that slain was hit at some distance from the encounter site with a stray bullet hit. “Police have appealed to the people  not to assemble or come close to the encounter sites as there is every chance that stray bullets may hit them and they make get injured,” he said. The police said that the encounter is still going on and didn’t mention whether any militant has been killed or not. The situation in south Kashmir parts was very tense when this report was being filed. (GNS)

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