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Ex-SPO among 2 Hizb militants killed in Shopian.

Two militants were killed in a fierce gunfight with government forces at a village in Shopian district on Friday. At least 52 persons, including a policeman, received injuries during clashes that erupted alongside the encounter site.The slain militants were identified as Showkat Ahmad and Yasir Ahmad Shah, residents of Herman and Arhama villages of Shopian respectively.

Showkat, a special police officer-turned-militant had joined Hizbul Mujahideen on August 25 last year after he fled with a rifle from police station Shopian, while Shah signed up for the outfit on March 12 this year.A police official said the gun battle took place at around 3 in the morning and lasted for nearly 12 hours.He said a joint team of army, CRPF and SOG personnel late on Thursday night ring-fenced Gadapora village, some 10km towards south of Shopian after they received information about the presence of  militants in the area.

He said soon a search operation was launched. As the forces neared a residential house and were about to search it, the militants hiding inside fired at them, the official said, adding that the forces immediately returned the fire, triggering a gun battle.

After the initial exchange of fire, there was a long hush that was punctured by another spell of bullets fired by militants at around 7:30 in the morning, the official said.The battle, according to the official, ended at around 3pm with the killing of two militants whose bodies were recovered from the debris of a residential house.

Nine structures, including six residential houses, were destroyed during the anti-militancy operation, the official added.He said when the gun battle was in progress, many residents living around the spot came of their houses and threw rocks at the forces, causing injuries to one of the policemen.

“The forces responded by firing tear smoke shells and pellets, causing injuries to some of them,” the official said.A health official told  that 45 persons with pellet injuries were received at primary medical facilities in Vehil and Herman villages.

“Of them, we sent seven to district hospital Shopian,” he said.Another official at district hospital Shopian said that they received 13 injured persons, including the seven referred from the primary health centres.“We referred 10 of them to the SMHS, Srinagar, as they required specialised treatment,” the official said, adding that while nine of them had suffered pellet injuries, one’s neck was grazed by a bullet.

A local resident said that some cattle, including two cows and four calves, also got killed during the gun battle.

POLICE VERSION

In a statement about the Shopian gunfight, police said “prima-facie this group (of militants) is believed to be responsible for the killing of a lady police official Khushboo Jan earlier this week in Shopian”.

“In the nearby area, one police official identified as Tariq Ahmad was injured in stone pelting and is undergoing treatment at a hospital. Besides, three individuals also sustained injuries. They have been hospitalised for the treatment of their injuries and are stated to be stable,” the statement read.

The police have registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter. “Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter,” the statement read, adding: “Citizens are requested not to venture inside the encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosives materials if any”.

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