A top Lashkar commander and his aide were killed in an encounter with security forces at Pulwama on Tuesday evening. The encounter had started at 8pm on Monday.
The militants, both of who were locals, were identified as Irshad Ahmad Ganie of Padgampora in South Kashmir and Gulzar Ahmad of Talangam in Pulwama. Irshad was a top-ranking Lashkar commander and graded as a category ‘A Plus Plus’ militant by security agencies. He is believed to have been an aide of Abu Qasim, who masterminded the Udhampur attack on a BSF convoy on August 3.
Irshad, according to sources, was the banned group’s hitman involved in major attacks in the past few years. He was also involved in an attack on an army convoy in Hyderpora in 2013 in which 10 soldiers were killed.
The encounter between security forces and militants started in Ratanpore area of South Kashmir after the militants fired on an army patrol. The security forces had cordoned off the area when the militants fired again, triggering the encounter on Monday night.
“The militants were engaged in fire since 8pm on Monday. There was a heavy gunfight around midnight after which the exchange of fire erupted on Tuesday morning,” Lt Gen Subrata Saha, the general officer commanding (GOC) of 15 Corps, said in Srinagar.
Earlier, the militants were holed up in a house before they managed to give security forces the slip. “To minimise harm to civilians, we engaged the militants away from the residential area,” an army source said.
On Tuesday morning, the militants were hiding in a paddy field where the encounter resumed.