The police on Thursday claimed to have struck a major blow to the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Kashmir by arresting its chief operations and divisional commander Qari Naveed alias Fahadullah and killing another in north Kashmir.
Inspector general of police Abdul Ghani Mir said Fahadullah, a resident of Multan, was arrested on Wednesday from north Kashmir.
"Based on his information about the presence of two militants in an orchard in Wagub village (in Sopore), a joint team of the army, police and CRPF launched an operation today. The hiding militants fired at the advance party. In retaliatory fire, one militant was killed," said Mir.
The encounter site in Sopore is around 55 km north of Srinagar. The arrest will impact LeT's striking capabilities in the Valley, though it has succeeded in recruiting around a dozen local militants in north Kashmir in 2012.
The slain militant has been identified as Shabir Ahmad Sheikh alias Tameen, a resident of north Kashmir's Palhalan area. Another militant, Hilal Molvi, escaped from the encounter site.
"The militant escaped using men and women working in orchards as human shield," said Mir.
The police described the arrest of Fahadullag as a "big catch". "He is the Valley's second top Lashkar militant after Qasim," said Mir.
According to the police, Fahadullah was involved in a number of killings, including that of a cop, and a series grenade attacks in Sopore.
Fahadullah took over as Lashkar operation commander for north Kashmir after another Lashkar commander Unni was killed in 2012. He was in charge of all Lashkar operations in north Kashmir.
"We expect more disclosures from Fahadullah," said Mir.