Kashmir: 3 terrorists killed as they try to desecrate Hazratbal Mosque & another shrine

at 8:21 pm
Hazratbal Mosque (File Pic)

(With updated information)

Srinagar: Attempts by Pakistan-backed terrorists to desecrate and damage two Mosques in Kashmir today, including one of the most revered Hazratbal Shrine, were foiled by the security forces who killed 3 terrorists, including a Pakistani.

This is part of a new strategy adopted by terrorists to hide in Mosques in an attempt to create a situation wherein sentiments of the people could be hurt, police said.

Three terrorists this afternoon targeted the Hazratbal mosque, which is located on the banks of famous Dal Lake in Srinagar.

They tried to attack a police guard posted at the shrine but the fire was returned by the police personnel there, the police said.

In the firing, one terrorist was killed.

He was later identified as Pakistani national Haidar alias Manzoor alias Hamzah.

Two other terrorists, however, managed to escape and a hunt has been launched to track them down.

“The killed terrorist (Haider) along with two other terrorists who managed to escape from the spot were on a mission to snatch weapon from the police personnel guarding the Hazratbal Shrine,” said a police statement.

“The timely action of a small police party who were tracking them led to the elimination of foreign terrorist,” it added.

It was found that Haider was associated with the so-called ‘The Resistance Front’ (TRF), a frontal organisation of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and was active in Srinagar for the last six months.

There was no collateral damage in the brief shootout, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Zone) Vijay Kumar said.

Earlier, in the morning, two local terrorists were killed in a separate encounter in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, the police said.

The encounter in Naina Batpora village of Pulwama erupted after joint forces of Police, Army and Central Reserve Police Force launched a cordon-and-search operation at around 4.25 AM to hunt down terrorists on the basis of a specific input.

“The Security Forces established an initial cordon comprising 25 houses. Systematic search commenced at 7:45 am,” a Defence Ministry spokesman said.
“During the search, it was discovered that the terrorists had taken shelter inside a Mosque,” he said, adding “The terrorists were spotted to be located in the top floor of the minaret.”
The security forces evacuated civilians from the nearby houses while maintaining continuous surveillance on the movement of the terrorists, he said.
“At around 10:10 AM, the terrorists opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed grenades from the top of the minaret onto own troops in the cordon,” the spokesman said.
“Fire was retaliated by own troops who had occupied dominating positions, resulting in the neutralisation of two terrorists,” he said.
Earlier, the grenade lobbing by the terrorists caused splinter injuries to 3 Indian Army soldiers, the spokesman said.


A police statement said, “During the search operation, as the presence of terrorists holed up in a separate structure nearby a local Mosque got ascertained, they were given ample opportunities to surrender and repeated appeals were made to them.

“Instead, they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party, leading to an encounter.

“Keeping in view the sanctity of Mosque, the joint team exercised maximum restraint to ensure no damage to it and two Army personnel sustained splinter injuries during the encounter. Both the injured were evacuated to hospital where their condition is stated to be stable.”

The two killed terrorists were affiliated with Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit and were identified as Shahid Ahmed Khan and Fayaz Sheikh, both hailing from Kashmir.

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Zone) Vijay Kumar said the security forces took every precaution to ensure there was no damage to the mosque.

He said the terrorists have changed their strategies to take shelter in Mosques and Shrines in order to “hurt the religious sentiments and create law and order problems in the valley. However. we will defeat all such nefarious designs.”