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Ghazi Baba killed in Srinagar gunbattle

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: August 30, 2003 19:33 IST
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Ghazi Baba, top-ranking Jaish-e-Mohammed militant and prime accused in the December 2001 attack on Parliament, was killed in an early morning operation carried out by the Border Security Force in Srinagar's Dana Mazaar residential area on Saturday, BSF sources said.

Three more militants holed up in a house with the Jaish extremist were also killed in the ten-hour encounter.

A commandant of the BSF, a deputy commandant and two assistant commandants were injured.

Inspector General of Police Vijay Raman said the operation was launched at 0330 IST after receiving information of Ghazi Baba's presence in a house in downtown Srinagar.

Raman, however, said it is not yet confirmed if Ghazi Baba was killed in the operation. "The operation has ended... the local police will carry out investigations to find out who were the people killed," he said.

In Delhi, Minister of State for Home I D Swami said: "Intelligence intercepts had indicated Ghazi Baba's presence in the house... but there is no confirmation yet."

BSF Director General Ajai Raj Sharma spoke glowingly of his officers, but said one should wait till all bodies are identified to pass a verdict on Ghazi Baba.

A BSF spokesman told that the Dana Mazaar residential area of the capital was cordoned off after information was received about militants hiding there.

As the search operation began, the militants hurled grenades at the jawans and opened fire with automatic weapons.

Reports said the militants were hiding in a house in the Noor Bagh-Qammerwari area.

The owner of the house, Mohammad Shafi Dar, was injured in the firing and was admitted to hospital. Six other members of the family -- two women and four children -- were rescued.

Early in the afternoon, after three of the four militants were killed, the BSF began demolishing parts of the house with mortar fire. Shortly after, the operation was declared over. The entire area, however, remains sealed and mopping-up operations are on.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar