Two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed in an encounter in Fateh Kadal area of the city along with a “civilian” and a policeman. The police, however, said that the all the three persons killed in the gunfight were militants. Meanwhile, the killing of militants and the civilian sparked off massive clashes in which at least twenty people were injured.Reports reaching Global News Service (GNS) said that in the wee hours today, special operations group (SOG) of police and CRPF laid a cordon around Mohalla Syed Ali Akbar of Fateh Kadal amid specific inputs suggesting the presence of Lashkar-e-Toiba militants.The search team came under fire when they started advances towards the house where militants were hiding. In the initial exchange of gunfire, one cop of SOG identified as Kamal Kishore was killed.In the ensuing gun-battle that continued for over an hour, two Lashkar militants were killed. They were identified them as Mehraj-ud-Din Bangroo and Fahad Mushtaq Waza. A civilian identified as Rayees Ahmad Sofi was also killed by the government forces during the gun-battle. Police, however, maintains he was an overground worker of Lashkar, an accusation strongly contested by the family.
During the encounter, three residential houses and several cars parked in the locality were damaged.Many journalists covering the encounter were also roughed up by the government forces in the area leading to outrage among the media fraternity. Media associations including Kashmir Editors Guild condemned the police action forcing senior police officers to tender an apology.Meanwhile, the killing sparked off violent protests in the Old City of Srinagar and led to a spontaneous shutdown.Groups of youth took to streets in Fateh Kadal, Karfali Mohalla, Safa Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Eidgah and other parts of the city and clashed with the government forces. The government forces burst tear gas canisters and fired pellets to disperse the stone pelting protesters.At least twenty people were injured in the clashes that continued till late evening.Meanwhile, a police spokesman in a handout issued here this evening said that one policeman was killed and two CRPF personnel injured in the initial exchange of gunfire with militants hiding in a residential house.“During the encounter, all the two terrorists (militants) and their active accomplice refused to come out of the house and in turn fired upon the search party. Consequently, they were killed in the encounter. The eliminated (militants) and the active accomplice have been identified as Mehraj-ud-Din Bangroo, Fahad Mushtaq Waza and Rayees Ahmad (sic),” a police spokesman said.Bangroo, he said was involved in the killing of three police personnel at Bagh-e-Ali Mardan Khan and Batamaloo besides an incident of rifle snatching and several grenade attacks.Police also issued an advisory to the people living around Fateh Kadal encounter site as the area was being sanitized and cleared by Bomb Disposal (BD) squad. Meanwhile, thousands of people attended the unreal of the slain militants at Eidgah here where they were laid to rest. (GNS)