“After specific information about the presence of militants, security forces surrounded Astan Mohalla (Kakapora) in Pulwama.
When the hiding militants were challenged, they fired at the security forces triggering a gunfight in which a local LeT commander, Muhammad Afzal alias Talib was killed,” a police spokesperson said.
“The slain militant was active in Pulwama district since last year and he was on the wanted list of the security forces,” the spokesperson added.
Reports said that militants probably 3 in number attacked a police party deputed to conduct a search operation in Kakapora village of Pulwama district.
Special Operations Group (SOG) of local police cordoned off Asthan Mohalla locality of Kakapora, 32 kms from Srinagar, at around 4 pm on receiving specific inputs about militants hiding in a house, a police officer said.
Reports said the militants opened fire on noticing the search party in an attempt to escape. At least three militants were reportedly hiding in Astan Mohalla in Kakapora village, however, Talib was neutralized soon after the gunfight began.
“The situation in the area is tense but under control,” an official stationed in the area said.
As the news about the death of Talib spread in the town, hundreds of people from adjoining areas of Kakapora including Patalbagh, Lelhar, Naman, Aloochibagh, Samboora, Hatiwara and other areas rushed towards the spot. Since the encounter was on, forces did not allow them to proceed resulting in the violent clashes, that left many protesters injured.
In a bid to disperse the protesters government forces bursted several tear-smoke shells and resorted to aerial firing. The situation, according to a police official, was tense but under control.
Talib Afzal Shah (22) was a post graduate student who had joined militant ranks in 2012. “Talib had completed his Master’s Degree in Physical Education from Kashmir University.” “My son had been arrested several times on charges of stone-pelting and even after his release the security agencies used to raid our house, harassing us. My son was very intelligent and being religious, commanded great respect in the area,” she said.