Are under-ground militant hide-outs outcome of shortage of space for militants?

Security officials claim militants feel unsafe to hide in residential areas, dig cave-like hide-outs for survival

Srinagar: Since November 24, After the killing of 250 militants this year, the highest ever since 2007, militants, according to top security officials are falling short of space to hide themselves in the months with the result cave-like hide-outs have been dug by them “to survive the winter months.”

Since December 1, four major encounters between militants and government forces occurred in open orchards in Pulwama and Anantnag districts, resulting in killing of 16 militants including.

All these encounters erupted around underground hideouts the militants had dug in open areas where they stayed in groups of five or six. The latest was at Awantipora, Pulwama where forces retaliated and killed one militant while two others, according to sources, managed to flee.

Second such encounter with militants in the open it turned out they had dug up a hideout in an orchard using a tin shed as cover at Shalgund-Satkipora village in southern Anantnag district. Six militants were killed there. A similar encounter took place in Sirnoo village of Pulwama where three militants were killed. They were found hiding in an underground hideout in an orchard.

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However, seven civilians were killed in firing by government forces during disturbances after that gun battle that also left a soldier dead. The fourth such encounter during the last four weeks, militants were found to have built a hideout in a “cave-like structure” in Midoora village of Tral, in Pulwama district.

Six AGH militants, including the group’s deputy chief Soliah were killed. A top police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told KNO, that after killing of 250 militants this year, militants have lost faith on the people and have decided not to hide themselves in residential areas and instead dig hide-outs beneath the ground.

“So lack of accommodation, their mistrust on the people is pushing them to underground hideouts. The hideouts we busted had eatables, oil, gass and other things which suggest militants wanted just to survive,” he told KNO..

Inspector general of police (operations) for CRPF, Zulfikar Hassan said there was no change in strategy by the militants as hideouts have been found on mountain tops, orchards, forests earlier too. “Of late, the flow of information based on credible leads has increased manifold.”

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A source in the army also said that “over the past few months, human and technical inputs about the militant presence in a particular area” started pouring in fast. Among the 250 militants killed this year so far were 15 top commanders of LeT, Hizb and Jaish-e-Muhammad.(KNO)