Night-long operation called off as trapped militants escape

ESS AHMAD. Dated: 5/4/2018 12:42:58 AM

ANANTNAG, Apr 3: The government forces on Thursday called off the night long anti-militant operation in Turwangam village of Shopian district after the trapped militants managed to escape.
The gunfight had raged between forces and militants Wednesday evening after the former laid a siege to the village. As the security forces zeroed in on a particular cluster of houses, the militants believed to be five in number opened fire on them triggering a gunfight. Sources said that two of them militants had escaped soon after the initial exchange of fire while three others who got trapped continued to fight the forces till late evening.
Hundreds of local youth soon after the gunfight raged rushed towards the encounter spot and clashed with forces by pelting them with stones in an attempt to disrupt the operation. A 9th class student was killed while dozen others were injured after the security forces fired bullets, pellets and tear-smoke shells on the protesters. Amid fierce clashes, the security forces continued with the operation against militants till late evening.
Sources said that the security forces completely damaged two residential houses using mortars and other explosives. One of the houses, local sources said, belonged to the in-laws of the most wanted militant commander, Zeenat-ul-Islam who was one of the trapped militants.
"We heard huge blasts and roaring of guns till late evening. After around 9 pm, the guns fell silent," local sources said.
They said that the security forces continued a siege around the gunfight spot till morning and also launched search operation to retrieve the bodies of the militants from the debris.
However, after finding nothing from the debris, sources said, security forces in the wee hours today called off the operation.
Official sources said that the militants managed to escape with the help of locals. "The youth offered stiff resistance to the forces which helped the militants to flee," they said.
No top police official responded to repeated calls from this correspondent for their version.
Pertinently, this is second time in less than month when militants managed to escape during gunfights with the help of youth. On April 11, three militants had escaped after being trapped and entering into fierce gun fight with the forces in Khudwani area of Kulgam. Four civilians had lost their lives while clashing with forces near the encounter spot.



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