5 Rebels killed in Kulgam gunfight, 7 Security men among 11 injured in Palladium grenade blast

Five militants were killed in a fierce gunfight with Army and Police here, officials said Sunday.
The gunfight broke out during the wee hours after the government forces cordoned off the area and zeroed in on a suspected locality.
“No sooner we reached the suspected house to carry out searches, the militants hiding inside fired at us, thereby triggering a gunfight,” a Police official said. “In the standoff that lasted for six hours, five militants were gunned down.”

The slain militants were identified as Waseem Bashir Rather alias Zeeshan, a native of Ashmuji village of Kulgam; Zahid Parray of Gopalpora village in Damhal Hanji Pora area of Kulgam; Idrees Bhat, a native of Arwani village of Anantnag; Aaqib Nazir of Zangalpora Kulgam and Parvaiz Bhat of Mukdampora Qaimoh, Kulgam.
Waseem, a Ph.D. scholar, had joined rebel ranks on May 23, Zahid on September 28, Aaqib had become active March 18 and Parvaiz had joined the militant outfit on July 5 last year.

All the killed militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen group.
As the gunfight was on, locals clashed with the government forces, throwing stones and brickbats in a bid to break off the cordon and help militants escape.
However, Police fired dozens of tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets in air to disperse the protesters.
At least 10 persons were injured in the action by the government forces.
Eight among the 10 injured were admitted at District Hospital Kulgam while two others were treated locally.

“Eight persons with pellet injuries were brought to our hospital, who had pellet injuries in different parts of the body. Two among them were referred to SMHS hospital as they had pellet injuries in the eyes,” Superintendent D H Kulgam Ghulam Muhammad Bhat said.
Authorities suspended mobile internet services in the district fearing it would help mobilize protestors in the area.

Angry protesters thrashed a local freelance photojournalist, Shah Junaid, who had gone to the area to cover the gunfight.
“Someone from the crowd of mourners shouted that ‘he has a CCTV camera fitted in his lens’ and the protesters, without giving it a second thought, pounced at me, beating me ruthlessly,” Junaid said.
The bodies of all the militants were handed over to their respective families and the funerals were going on till late evening.

Meanwhile, At least 11 persons including four policemen and three CRPF personnel were injured in a grenade attack at the heavily-guarded Lal Chowk in Srinagar Sunday evening.
Police said the militants tossed a grenade toward the CRPF’s 132 battalion stationed at Palladium Cinema in Lal Chowk.
However, the grenade exploded by the roadside where the government forces were deployed.

The blast left 11 persons inured, they said.
Soon after the blast, additional forces rushed to spot to assess the situation.
However, the suspected militants had managed to flee from the scene.
A senior Police officer said the blast took place at around 6:45 pm following which Police rushed to the spot.

He said Police attended the site of the blast and found four policemen, three CRPF personnel and four civilians were injured in the attack.
The injured policemen, as per a source, were identified as Ashiq Ahmed, Abid Ahmed, Muhammad Shafi, and Nasir Ahmed, while the injured CRPF men were identified as ASI R Munaswami, constable Vishal and constable Davinder of the 132 battalion of CRPF.
The injured civilians have been identified as Humaira of Harwan, Abdul Qayoom of Mandibal Nowshehra, Taliba Gulshan of Dalgate and Shadab Shah of Nishat.

“The injured were shifted to hospitals for treatment and are stated to be stable,” a police officer said.
Police has registered a case into the incident and work to establish the full circumstances of the incident are underway, he said.
Meanwhile, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit claimed carrying the grenade attack.
“The attack was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad’s ‘Afzal Guru Squad,’” a Srinagar-based news agency quoted JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan as having said.

The incident is third of its kind so far this year at Lal Chowk which remains under constant watch of the government forces besides the round-the-clock CCTV surveillance.
On January 18, militants hurled a grenade toward paramilitary CRPF bunker near Ghanta Ghar in Lal Chowk Srinagar. However, no one was injured in the attack.
Earlier, militants had hurled a grenade toward the same paramilitary CRPF bunker at Palladium Cinema.
Those attacks were also claimed by JeM.

Following the grenade attacks, the government forces intensified vigil around Lal Chowk and began frisking people.
About the investigation of previous grenade blasts, a senior police officer said they were working to unearth the network behind the incidents.
“We are working on the investigations. There is no breakthrough yet,” he said.

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