3 militants killed in Awantipora

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Thousands attend funeral amid clashes; train service suspended 
Qayoom Khan
Pulwama, May 7: Two Hizbul Mujahideen and one Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed in pre-dawn encounter at Panzgam village of Awantipora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The killings evoked shutdown, clashes and protests in parts of the district while mobile services were shut down by authorities for several hours.
Sources told news agency GNS that acting upon a specific input of Srinagar Cargo, a joint team of SOG, army’s 55 RR and CRPF cordoned off Panzgam village last night at 11 and started a search operation. The sources said that the forces zeroed in the house of one Dawood Ahamd Wagay and planted IEDs around his house.
 “The forces called him out and shortly blasted the house. The blasts were followed by a brief exchange of fire between forces and militants,” the sources said, adding that three militants were killed during the fight. The forces concluded the operation at 6 am in the morning and recovered three bodies.
The slain have been identified as Ishfaq Ahmad Dar, son of Gulam Nabi Dar, resident of Dogripora, Awantipora, Ishfaq Ahmad Baba, son Ghulam Hassan Baba, resident of Tahab, Pulwama and Haseeb Ahmad Laya, son of Ghulam Nabi Kaya, resident of Bandana Nayin, Pulwama. Ishfaq Baba and Ishfaq Dar were associated with Hizb while Haseeb was with LeT.
As the operation was in its last phase, hundreds of locals marched towards the gunfight site and pelted stones on forces. The forces retaliated by lobbing teargas shells and also chased away the protesters several times. Later the bodies of the slain were handed over their families.
As the news about the killing of three militants spread in Pulwama, a spontaneous shutdown amid protests was observed in Main Town, Tahab, Prixhoo, Awantipora and Nain. The people took to streets and staged anti-India protests.
Thousands of people attended the funeral of slain militants at their respective villages amid massive protests. The militants were then laid to rest amid sobs and tears. Shortly after the funerals were over, hundreds of youth clashed with forces at Tahab and Rajpora Chowk in Pulwama in which several persons including cops were injured.
The clashes were intense at Tahab where youths attacked a forces camp with stones. SP Pulwama, Rayees Ahmad said a case has been registered against the miscreants and investigation taken up. He confirmed the injuries to cops. In the meanwhile, a person was injured when a shell went off near encounter site at Panzzgam. The injured was identified as Shake Wagay.
In wake of militant killings, authorities fearing escalation of protests closed down mobile services in Pulwama district from 11 to 3pm. The telecom authorities according to sources were ordered to shut down mobile towers. The Srinagar-Banihal train service also remained suspended. (GNS)