Thursday, May 31, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Nine ultras shot in Poonch encounter
M. L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Indian army soldiers take up positions near a mosque, occupied by separatist militants, at a village Kharwara in Shopian town 60 kms (37 miles) south of Srinagar on Wednesday.
Indian army soldiers take up positions near a mosque, occupied by separatist militants, at a village Kharwara in Shopian town 60 kms (37 miles) south of Srinagar on Wednesday. Police said that two Indian security force personnel were killed in a gunbattle, which erupted after separatist militants started firing on security force from inside a mosque. — Reuters photo

Jammu, May 30
The Army achieved a major success when the troops eliminated nine dreaded terrorists around Surankot area of Poonch today in a daylong encounter.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said on a specific information troops cordoned off two rebel hideouts and as the soldiers neared the spot they came under a heavy volume of fire. The troops retaliated and killed nine militants, most of them foreign mercenaries, on the spot.

Large quantities of arms and ammunition, including seven assault rifles, 699 rounds of ammunition, several kg of high-grade explosives and hand grenades were recovered from the slain militants.

The spokesman said with the killing of nine militants the Pakistan plan of kicking up major subversive violence in the area was foiled.

PTI adds from Srinagar: A special police officer (SPO) was killed and a jawan critically injured when a group of militants, holed up in a mosque, opened fire on a joint party of the police and Army at Shopian in Pulwama district of south Kashmir today, official sources said.

The mosque was encircled by Army reinforcements immediately after the militant ambush and efforts were on to flush out rebels hiding there, they said adding initial reports put the number of militants inside at three.

They said a joint party of Special Operations Group (SOG) comprising the local police and Army moved to Khadwara village in the Shopian area this morning following specific information about the militants’ presence there.

The militants hiding in the mosque opened fire when the search party reached there killing SPO Abdul Rashid, alias Nasir and critically injuring an Army jawan, the sources said.

Despite repeated attempts by the Army to force the hiding militants to surrender, they continued firing on the troops from different positions from inside the mosque.

The sources said, the security personnel were exercising maximum restraint and had tightened the cordon around the mosque to foil any attempt by the militants to escape.

Senior officers were supervising the operation, they said.

Meanwhile, five passengers travelling in a taxi were injured when the security forces, who had set up a naka after receiving a tip-off that some militants would be crossing the area, allegedly opened fire on the vehicle around midnight at Machhama village in Badgam district, triggering protest by the villagers.

The taxi driver Nissar Ahmad Shah and four passengers identified as Peer Ghulam Mohammad, Saja Begum, Ghulam Mohammad Ganai and Nazir Ahmad Ganai were injured in the incident.

The injured were rushed to a hospital in Srinagar early today where the condition of two of them was stated to be “serious”.

Official sources when contacted said the Army opened fire on the taxi when the driver did not heed to their signal to stop and instead crossed several bursting erected by the troops.

The troops fired with a view to bursting the tyres of the vehicle and in the shooting some of them were injured, the sources added.

Elsewhere five militants, including four foreign mercenaries, and a counter-insurgent were among eight persons killed in Jammu and Kashmir, where a major tragedy was averted with the timely detection of a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) since last night, official sources said here on Wednesday.

The “self-styled district commander” of the Jaish-e-Mohammad Abu Hamza, alias Asif Umar, hailing from Pakistan, was killed in an encounter with the security forces at Chewa in the Ganderbal area on the outskirts of Srinagar today, they said.

An AK 56 rifle, two grenades and some ammunition were seized.

A foreign mercenary Abu Zaf was killed in a gun fight with the security forces at Mustafabad of Badgam district today. Two foreign mercenaries were killed in an encounter between militants and BSF troops in the Sokar area of Gool tehsil of Udhampur district in Jammu region last night, the BSF sources said adding one of the militants had been identified as Abu Mir hailing from Pakistan.

Two AK rifles, five magazines, one radio set were seized, the sources said.

One militant was killed in a gun battle with the security forces at Ujjan in Rajouri district last night, the sources said. Militants killed the manager of the Chini Chowk branch of the J and K bank, Majid Hussain Rizvi, in his house at Nai Basti in Anantnag district last night, they said. Militants shot dead a counter-insurgent outside his house at Soibug in Uattan area of Baramula district last night.

In the Karkanbeli area of Mahore tehsil of Udhampur district, a civilian was killed in cross firing between militants and police last night, the sources said. Meanwhile, a major tragedy was averted with the timely detection of a powerful IED weighing about 25 kg by the police at Tengpora near Koil in Pulwama district of Kashmir last evening. Later, the IED was defused. 

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