Shopian gunfight leaves 3 militants dead, Army man, four photojournalists injured | KNO

Omar condemns ‘use of force’ against photojournalists, Mirwaiz expresses concern
Shopian gunfight leaves 3 militants dead, Army man, four photojournalists injured | KNO

Kashmir News Observer (KNO)

Shopian, January 22 (KNO) : Three militants were killed, an army man, four photojournalists were injured in a fierce gunfight between government forces and militants and in clashes in Heff-Shirmal area of southern Kashmir’s Shopian district. Four journalists were injured after forces fired pellets on them while covering the encounter. “A joint team of forces including army’s 44 RR, CRPF and SOG of Jammu and Kashmir police launched search operation in the area. As the search operation was going on, the militants hiding in a hideout fired upon forces triggering a gunfight,” sources told KNO. Police official claimed that soon after initial exchange two militants were killed but hiding militants kept on firing on forces that led to injuries to one Army personnel. The gunfight ended with the killing of third militant after forces used explosives to blow the hideout of militants. As the gunfight raged between two sides massive clashes erupted in the area with youth resorting to stone pelting which was retaliated with tear gas. Four photojournalists covering the gunfight were injured when government forces fired pellets towards them. The injured scribes were rushed to Primary Health Centre for treatment. Sources said that among the killed militants is the brother of Indian Police Service (IPS). He has been identified as Shamsul Haq Mengnoo son of Mohammad Rafiq Mengnoo, a resident of Draggud village of Shopian district. Authorities have snapped internet in the district as precautionary measure. The attack on the journalists was condemned by former chief minister Omar Abdullah. Abdullah took to social networking site Twitter to express himself. "Highly unfortunate reports about journalists injured, including some with pellet injuries, while covering clashes in South Kashmir. I condemn this incident. The indiscriminate use of force, often without any accountability, will always be counterproductive," Abdullah tweeted. Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ violence’ against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’ “Unacceptable violence by #India’s security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted. “We call on #indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on this blatant attack on press freedom. #JournalismIsNotACrime,” it tweeted. Kashmir bases journalist bodies have condemned the attack on scribes as well. Meanwhile, Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also expressed concern over the pellet injuries to photojournalists who were covering protests. “No let up in killings and persecution of Kashmiri’s especially the young by Indian forces as six young armed boys martyred since yesterday while unarmed Mohd Younis grievously injured in head with stones thrown at him and photojournalists covering protests showered with pellets!,” Mirwaiz tweeted. (KNO)