Srinagar, Aug 9 (IANS) Security forces on Wednesday shot dead three militants from the newly announced Jammu and Kashmir wing of Al Qaeda led by Zakir Musa.
Police said the three were killed in a gunfight between security forces and militants in Gulab Bagh village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
They became the first militants from the Kashmir Al Qaeda group known to have been killed by security forces in the Kashmir Valley.
Police along with Rashtriya Rifles and the Central Reserve Police Force launched a cordon and search operation in Gulab Bagh area of Tral after getting specific inputs about the presence of militants.
“As the forces conducted the operation, the hidden militants fired at them. The security forces retaliated, leading to an encounter,” an officer said.
The three militants who died were identified as Zahid Bhat of Nowdal Tral, Mohammad Ishaq Bhat of Batagund Tral and Mohammad Ashraf Dar of Baghi Trich, all in Pulwama district.
A police statement said two AK-47 rifles and a pistol were found at the site.
Muhammad Ishaq Bhat was reportedly involved in firing on an attack on police personnel which seriously injured Head Constable Abdul Gani Bhat. He was also accused of thrashing and torturing some Special Police Officers at gunpoint and circulated the scenes on social media.
Zahid Bhat had earlier hurled a grenade on a CRPF team. “Both Ishaq and Zahid were involved in a firing incident at Tral market, resulting in injuries to three persons. They were also involved in various grenade attacks in south Kashmir.”
After the gun battle, a huge mob pelted stones at a security camp. The security forces opened fire, injuring a person who later succumbed to his injuries.
Al Qaeda had announced Zakir Musa as head of its affiliate group called ‘Ansar Ghazwatul Hind’ group in Kashmir.