Lashkar Militants Give ‘Gun Salute’ At Funeral Of Associate

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Srinagar: A group of alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba militants on Sunday fired in the air as a salute to their slain associate Fayaz Ahmad, who died in the exchange of bullets between police and militants on Saturday.

Eyewitnesses in Kulgam said four militants appeared at the funeral of Ahmad, who hailed from the district. Police said Ahmad was involved in a fidayeen attack on a BSF convoy at Udhampur two years ago and the NIA had put a reward on his head.

Ahmad belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen, the police added.

Police said Ahmad had been active for two years. “The militant was wanted in the case FIR No 08/2015, investigated by the NIA, for his role in a fidayeen attack on a BSF convoy on August 2015 at Narsu Udhampur,” a police spokesman said. “In this attack two BSF personnel were killed and 11 others were injured”.

On Sunday morning, thousands of men and women took to the streets at Qaimoh village of Kulgam to participate in the funeral of Ahmad who was killed on Saturday in a brief of exchange of fire between the police and militants at Mir Bazar. Three civilians and a policeman were also killed in the encounter.

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Eyewitnesses said that as the funeral procession was moving, four militants with assault rifles appeared and fired shots in the air.

The people participating in the funeral took cellphone videos of the militants firing in the air and these have gone viral on social network sites. In one of the pictures, three militants with AK-47s are seen firing in the air as some women duck for cover.

The appearance of militants at funerals of their slain associates is being witnessed in the Valley for over a year now. It has, however, seen a spurt in the last few months, thus throwing a challenge to security forces.

The Sunday incident assumes significance as it comes three days after the Army and the police launched one of its biggest anti-militancy operations in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, bordering Kulgam.

The police said Ahmad was motivating youth to join the militant ranks and provided logistics support and safe passage to militants. “From the killed terrorist, one pistol, one pistol magazine, eight pistol rounds and a grenade were found,” the police spokesman said.