Army, police launch operation to flush out ultras from Sadpora hideout

Five more militants of the Lashkar-e-Taiba are believed to have been killed in a gunfight with police and security forces in the Sopore area of north Kashmir, where three militants of the outfit died in clashes with the armed forces last week.

Inspector-General of Police (Kashmir) Shiv Murari Sahai confirmed the deaths in the early morning gunfight at Sadpora, 65 km from here. The police and the Army launched the operation, acting on information about the presence of the militants in their hideout.

Mr. Sahai said after visiting the site that one house suffered extensive damage. “But, I am sure there’s no collateral damage. No civilian, police or security forces personnel, has died or has been injured…”

Two still holding out

However, independent sources at Sopore said two houses, of Bashir Ahmed Dar and Meraj Ahmad Dar, were destroyed in the daylong gunfight. Two more gunmen were still holding out, exchanging fire with the Army, on Tuesday night.

Sopore Superintendent of Police Imtiyaz Hussain Mir said the operation was launched in coordination with the Army. The information pertained to a group of five militants. Residents later revealed that two more joined the group around midnight. The bodies of five militants were believed to be lying under the debris, but only one body and a weapon were recovered until Tuesday evening.

Official sources identified the militant as Aattir Ahmad Dar alias Naveed alias Ali of Model Town, Sopore. The body was handed over to his family. They said Aattir recently shot dead a soldier in an attack at an ATM on the highway township of Pampore. He also gunned down a personal security officer of National Conference MLA Irfan Shah at Baramulla. Aattir was also wanted for two recent strikes on the Sopore police station and a camp of the CRPF’s 179 Battalion.

Describing Tuesday’s operation as a major setback to the Lashkar, official sources said 10 militants had died in three gunfights at Sopore in the past eight days. They confirmed the presence of the Lashkar’s most dreaded militant, Fahadullah, but were not sure whether he died or escaped.