Five top Lashker militants gunned down in Kashmir valley

Terrorism in India
Srinagar, July 16: Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba suffered a major setback in the Kashmir valley as security personnel have been killed five of its top terrorists, including three self-styled divisional commanders, during an encounter in the border district of Kupwara.

The five Lashker militants were killed after a day-long encounter which ended last night after a massive explosion rocked a house at a village Maidanpora in Lolab area of the district, a police spokesman said.

The militants have been identified as Saqib alias Sohail, Lashker's Divisional Commander for North Kashmir, Hamad alias Haneef, Divisional Commander for Kupwara and Qari Saifullah, Divisional Commander for Central Kashmir, he said.

The militants were killed in the encounter which began early yesterday. Charred bodies of the ultras were recovered from the debris of the house where they were hiding at the village.

Five AK-47 rifles have also been recovered from the encounter scene. The other two militants killed in the encounter are Chotta Saad, Battalion Commander of Lashkar and Umair alias Hafiz, the spokesman said.

Saqib, who was responsible for the killing of a policeman in Sopore earlier this month, is considered a backbone of Lashkar in Lolab and had been active since 2009. Hamad was one of the most wanted militants in North Kashmir and was active since 2008. He was injured in an army operation in December.

Qari Saifullah was active in Ganderal and Harwan areas of central Kashmir. According to sources, the militants were holding a meeting in the house to plan future strikes on security installations in Kashmir valley.

The day-long encounter had also claimed the life of an Army jawan identified as Nayak Sumer Singh from Nagaur district of Rajasthan. Another jawan received a bullet injury in his stomach, the spokesman said.

Besides this, four others, including an army captain, received minor injuries in the operation.

Police had received an intelligence input that a group of five Lashker militants had sneaked into a house at Maidanpora after moving out of Sopore town where they had carried out an attack on a police station on July five killing one policeman.

"A search and cordon operation was launched in the wee hours today in which police were assisted by 18 Rashtriya Rifles personnel. An operation was launched after a woman, who was trapped inside a house, could manage to come out to safety," the spokesman said.


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