AGAR: Three separatist guerrillas of the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) outfit were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday, even as the Indian Army unearthed a tunnel across the LoC that was meant to push terrorists into India, officials said.
Police said the three militants killed in Hanjanbala (Rajpora) village in Pulwama district were locals and included a district commander and a teenager who had recently joined the outfit.
The three guerrillas were identified as JeM district commander Altaf Ahmad Rather, Farooq Ahmad Laway and 19-year-old Showkat Ahmad Dar, who had reportedly joined only last month.
The Special Operations Group (SOG) of police, counter-insurgency Rashtriya Rifles and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) cordoned Hanjanbala village on Monday night on information that three militants was hiding inside a house there.
When the militants were told to surrender, they fired indiscriminately at the security forces. The ensuing gunfight lasted till noon yesterday.
“The first militant to be killed was Showkat Ahmad,” a police official said.
Villagers said the security forces later used explosive material to blast the house that came down, burying the two other guerrillas under its rubble.
The bodies of the three guerrillas were later recovered from the debris. An AK-47 rifle and a self-loading rifle (SLR) were also found.
The bodies of the guerrillas were handed over to villagers for burial.
Angry villagers clashed with police after the gunfight ended. At least 12 people, including civilians and policemen, were injured.
Ghulam Ahmad Dar, the father of the 19-year-old slain in the gunfight, was summoned by the security forces to persuade his son to surrender when the exchange of fire was on.
But the militant commander holed up with him prevented him from listening to his father’s advice, a police officer said.
Police said the death of the JeM district commander was a “huge success” and a massive setback to militant activities in the area.
The rifle recovered from the gun battle site was snatched by Rather from police in Pakherpora shrine in the Kashmir Valley in June.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army yesterday unearthed an unfinished tunnel across the Line of Control (LoC) that was meant to push terrorists into India.
The discovery was made in Akhnoor sector, a military spokesman said. “Having failed to infiltrate terrorists across Jammu division, there was an attempt to construct a tunnel across the LoC. Alert soldiers in Akhnoor thwarted the nefarious designs of the terrorists by discovering the tunnel before it could be completed,” the official said.
The Border Security Force (BSF) had discovered a similar tunnel on the international border in Jammu district last month.
The Indian Army guards the LoC while the BSF is deployed along the international border in Jammu and Kashmir.