Top Hizb commander killed in Kashmir gun-battle

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Srinagar, Nov 12 (UNI) Security forces killed a top commander of the pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen in a five-hour-long gun-battle near the world famous tourist resort of Pahalgam today, police said.

Giving details, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Anantnag, Abdul Ghani said personnel of the Special Operation Group (SOG) and 156 battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), on a specific information, launched a joint operation at Batakote in Pahalgam area at around 1330 hrs.

As the security forces, led by DSP Harmeet Singh, zeroed in on the house of Mohammad Ramzan, they came under heavy fire from inside in which one civilian was wounded, he added.

Keeping calm, the SSP said security forces restrained their response as a marriage was being celebrated in the nearby house and around 1000 people had assembled there.

To avoid civilian casualties, police started evicting the people from the venue of marriage despite being continuously fired upon.

Meanwhile, troops from the nearby Rashtriya Rifles (RR) camp were rushed to the area and the fire was retaliated only when the entire civilian population was evacuated from the vicinity, he added.

In the ensuing encounter, the SSP said Hizb battalion commander Mohammad Shafi Meloo alias Younis, a resident of Khilan in Pahalgam area, was killed.

Active since the past eight years, the slain commander was an ''A'' category militant wanted in number of cases, he added.

During the encounter, the SSP said the house of Mohammad Ramzan also caught fire and suffered damage.

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