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11 militants, three soldiers among 16 killed in Kashmir

Srigar, April 1: Three soldiers and 11 militants were among 16 killed in the Kashmir Valley on Sunday in fierce fighting whose victims included those who had abducted and murdered Lt Ummer Fayaz in May last year. In one of the worst rounds of armed clashes between the security forces and miliants in recent years, the fighting took place in two places in Shopian district and a third spot in Antg district in southern Kashmir. During the fighting, a large number of civilians poured out of their homes, leading to more trouble. The Army, the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Central Reserve Police Force said a total of 11 militants, three soldiers and two civilians lay dead at the end of the day. One militant was killed in Dialgam in Antg district while one person was arrested there, a police officer said. Seven militants were killed in Dragad village of Shopian district and three in Kachdoora village in the same district.
“Three Army soldiers were martyred in these operations,” a police officer said. Two civilians were also killed in Shopian — one at Dragad and another at Kachdoora. Addressing a joint press conference at Awantipora in Pulwama district, Lt Gen A.K. Bhatt, Commander of the Army’s Srigar-based 15 Corps, said: “Today is a very special day for all our security forces. “We have killed eight terrorists in two operations… A third operation against terrorists is still going on in Kachdoora village (in which three militants were killed).” Gen Bhatt said two terrorists responsible for killing Lt Fayaz when he was visiting his family on a holiday had been elimited. “I appeal to youths not to get lured by weapons. Anybody who uses weapons will be dealt with in the same manner we dealt with the terrorists today.” He said Sunday’s was the biggest anti-militancy operation in the Kashmir Valley in a long time.
Jammu and Kashmir Police chief S.P. Vaid said that at Dialgam, a Senior Superintendent of Police made a special effort to persuade the terrorists to surrender. He summoned the family members of the two terrorists in a bid to persuade them to give themselves up. “Instead of surrendering, one of the holed up terrorists opened fire and the security forces had no option but to kill him. “The other one we caught alive. Operations are carried out most professiolly by the security forces.
“Two Army jawans have been martyred in the operation while some others belonging to the Army, CRPF and police have been injured.” The officer said two civilians were also killed in the fighting. “One was the house owner in Dragad village where the terrorists were holed up and the other was injured in clashes in Kachdoora. “Six civilians sustained bullet injuries and we hope they get well soon.” The police chief said all the seven bodies of local militants killed in Dragad have been claimed by their families. He identified the killers of Lt Fayaz as Ahmad Malik and Rayees Thokar, both of whom were among those shot dead in Dragad. The police chief said four to five militants were trapped in Kachdoora where the security forces were still battling the militants. “It is painful for all of us to see the loss of young lives. I appeal to parents to ensure children do not get lured by guns.”
Inspector General of Police S.P. Pani said Internet services had been suspended in all four south Kashmir districts. “Train services were also suspended as a precaution.” Srigar city, he added, was by and large peaceful. Authorities have ordered closure of all colleges and schools in the Valley on Monday as a precaution. (IANS)