A top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant, assigned to revive militancy in north Kashmir and the brain behind at least half-a-dozen attacks on troops, was killed on Friday, following a nightlong gunfight in north Kashmir's Kupwara district, the police here said.
The police, CRPF and the army 21 Rashtriya Rifles encircled Dudipora village, more than 65 km away from Srinagar, on Thursday afternoon. "The security forces were working on specific information regarding the movement of LeT commander Abu Hanzla in the village.
The terrorist fired upon the joint search party from a hutment. The fire was retaliated and, during the encounter, Hanzla was killed," said Handwara superintendent of police Mohammad Aslam.
Hanzala, active since 2007 in north Kashmir, was a Pakistan national and carried a Rs 10 lakh reward on his head.
An expert in assembling bombs, Hanzala was the divisional commander of the LeT in north Kashmir. "He is among the top men of the outfit," the SP said. Hanzla was killed in the morning. "The operation was halted during the night. A tight cordon was maintained with reinforcements to prevent the militant from escaping," said Aslam. The hutment was also damaged in the encounter.
After LeT's operational commander Abdullah Unni was killed in 2011, Hanzala took over to make fresh recruitments. "He was involved in facilitating infiltration of terrorists and distribution of terrorists, targeting and killing of civilians and security force personnel," said the police.
The police claim that the killing has served a severe blow to the activities of the LeT, particularly in north Kashmir. "It will strongly affect the resolve of its cadre base. His elimination is a major success to police and other security forces on militancy front," said the police.