3 HM militants, 5 civilians still holed up in a mosque in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Dec 24 (UNI) The mosque stand off in south Kashmir continued for the second day today as three Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants holed up inside refused to surrender and release five civilians, held hostage since yesterday afternoon.

The relatives of the holed up militants also refused to negotiate, a police spokesman said, adding the militant refused food and water from the administration.

We are making all efforts to persuade the militants to surrender and release the five hostages without causing any damage to the mosque, he said, stressing police and other security agencies exercised restraint and did not make any attempt to storm the worship place.

He said the militants have been identified as Shiraz Ahmad Bhat alias Asgher, Mudasir Ahmad Mir alias Jehangir and Ishfaq Ahmad Wagay, all locals belonging to HM.

Sharpshooters, armed with automatic weapons, remained deployed around the Jamia mosque at Palnoo Panditpora, Kulgam, the sources said.

Two soldiers and a civilian Tajamul Islam Mir were injured in the encounter so far, the sources said, adding there was no report of exchange of fire between the holed up militants and security forces since last evening.

Police spokesman said all the villagers in the nearby houses have been evacuated to safe places.

He said the relatives of militants have refused to meet them.

However, senior civil and police officials present in the area are holding negotiations with the militants with the help of local Imam the headman and other senior citizens to persuade them to release the hostage and surrender.

He said the holed up militants have refused food from the administration.

The operation started yesterday when a group of militants, reportedly two to three, entered the mosque after exchange of fire with a patrol in the area.

Reinforcements were rushed to the area from nearby camps to foil any attempt of the militants to escape.

UNI

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