Soldier and Militant Killed in Ongoing Encounter in North Kashmir
Image is of a Sopore encounter over eight months ago
SRINAGAR: A suspected militant and an Army soldier were killed in north Kashmir's Rafiabad where a raging gun battle erupted on Wednesday morning.
Officials said the encounter broke out in Ladura village of Rafiabad, where a suspected Lashkkar-e-Toiba militant from Pakistan was caught by security agencies last month, the second such catch in about two weeks.
There are conflicting reports about the number of militants who were trapped in a residential house in Ladura, but a J&K Police officer said Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo, a resident of Kralteng locality of Sopore, was also involved in the gun battle.
The slain militant has been identified as Riyaz Ahmad who was reportedly carrying a reward on his head.
The police officer said a siege was laid around the house by a joint team of the Rashtriya Rifles and J&K Police's Special Operations Group on Wednesday morning following intelligence inputs.
"In the initial exchange of gunfire, an Army soldier was injured. He was taken to a hospital where he has succumbed," the officer said.
The identity of the slain soldier has not been ascertained so far.
Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo is a close aide of Abdul Qayoom Najar, one of J&K's most wanted militant who has been executing the attacks on mobile infrastructure in Kashmir Valley.
Najar leads the 'rebel' group of Hizbul Mujahideen which suspended him from basic membership last month for "killing innocent people and character assassination of the Hurriyat leaders".
Both Najar and Kandoo are accused by police of killing six persons, including separatist activists and former militants, over three weeks in Sopore town in the month of June. They carry a bounty of Rs 10 lakh each.
Some families of the slain people in Sopore as well as the separatist groups and the opposition National Conference, however, blamed the June killings on "Indian agencies".
Insurgency-related violence has spiked in J&K since the new coalition government of Peoples Democratic Party and BJP came to power in March this year, coinciding with the deep freeze in relations between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan recently called off the NSA-level talks after India objected to the meeting of its NSA, Sartaj Aziz, with the separatist leaders of Kashmir.