Saturday, November 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






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J & K ministerís brother killed in blast
Gloom engulfs Shias of Budgam
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, Nov 3 ó Top Shia leader Aga Syed Mehdi, brother of Jammu and Kashmir Minister Aga Syed Mehmood, and five others, including his personal security officers and driver, were killed in a mine blast that blew off their vehicle at Kanihama in the North Kashmir district of Baramula this afternoon.

Eight others, including four militants, one of them a foreigner, and four security personnel were killed in an encounter at Wathora in Budgam district in a nightlong operation. Militants shot dead two persons in Baramula and Kupwara districts, while the security forces recovered a large quantity of arms and ammunition during search operations in Jammu and Kashmir since yesterday.

According to the police, militants detonated an IED at Kanihama in the Magam area of Baramula district at 2.15 p.m. today when the vehicle of Agha Syed Mehdi of Budgam passed by. All five occupants died on the spot, the police said. Those killed included his PSO, constable Farooq Ahmad and driver Showkat Ahmad, while the identity of the others was not known.

A pall of gloom engulfed the Shia-dominated area of Budgam when the news of the death of Agha Syed Mehdi reached his hometown, Budgam. Agha fought the Srinagar parliamentary constituency election in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections and lost to Mr Umar Abdullah of the ruling National Conference. He had unsuccessfully contested the Budgam Assembly constituency poll in 1996, where he lost to Syed Ghulam Hassan Geelani of the ruling National Conference by a thin margin of 1594 votes.

Meanwhile, four militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad, one of them a foreigner, identified as Ajaz Ahmad of Afghanistan, were killed in a night-long encounter at Wathura in Budgam district. The police said two Army jawans were also killed in the encounter. However, sources said that the toll was four.

Seven residential houses were gutted in the exchange of fire between the militants and security forces. The encounter continued till this morning. The police said that security forces and the police carried a joint search operation at Wathora on receipt of information yesterday. When the cordon was in progress, militants fired upon the search parties, leading to the encounter.

In a separate incident, two policemen were killed and 25 injured, 18 of them seriously, when suspected militants triggered an improvised explosive device (IED) inside a police training school at Shree, 65 km from here, in Baramula district tonight.

The SSP, Baramula, Mr A.G. Manhas, said the explosion took place at 7.45 p.m. in barrack No 5 of the subsidiary police training school where at least 100 boys were undergoing training. The deceased were yet to be identified. Deputy Superintendent of Baramula Hospital said 18 of the 25 injured were in a serious condition.
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