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4 security men, top LeT terrorist killed in J&K

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: March 23, 2008 20:13 IST
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Five persons, including four security men and a terrorist, were killed and two cops critically wounded in a gun battle on the outskirts of Jammu and Kashmir capital Srinagar on Sunday.

Police said paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force troopers and special operations group of the state police -- on specific information -- raided a house in the Dangerpora Telbal locality on Sunday morning.

"As the joint raiding party neared the house in which the terrorists were holed up, they came under heavy automatic gunfire, resulting in on the spot death of a paramilitary trooper and a cop," a senior police officer said.

"Two more injured cops succumbed to their injuries in the hospital. Those killed included the driver of the city police chief, who led the operation," the officer said, adding, "In the ensuing fierce gunfight one terrorist -- identified as Abu Hafiz of Lashkar-e-Tayiba -- was killed."
Authorities in Srinagar confirmed that other terrorists managed to escape. The fierce exchange of fire triggered major panic and tension in the area, located on the banks of Dal lake. One civilian is reported to have been hit by a stray bullet nearly three km away from the encounter site.

Terming the killing of the terrorist as a 'major blow' to the militant outfit, a police spokesman said he was active in Kangan-Ganderbal belt and had masterminded a grenade attack at Sonarmarg and firing on an army convoy at Kangan last year.

He had moved to Srinagar to boost the terrorist activities in the state, the spokesman said, adding, he was a member of the Central Command of the LeT.

The deceased security personnel have been identified as constables Bashir Ahmed, Irshad Ahmed and Mohammed Kabir of local police and Sham Singh Yadav a CRPF constable.

The injured including sub-inspector Umesh Thakur and constables Mushtaq Ahmad and Ashok Kumar have been hospitalised, the spokesman said.

The encounter comes just four days after militants set off a massive improvised explosive device at the high security exhibition crossing in the heart of the city on March 19, which left one person dead and 17 others injured.

The blast ended over six-month long lull in violence in the city. The encounter was also the first major gun battle between militants and security forces this year.

Additional Reportage: PTI

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar