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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

4 members of al Qaeda affiliate killed in encounter at Shopian

Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Shopian, following information about the presence of militants there, a police official said.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2019 23:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Srinagar
An encounter broke out between militants and security forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir Sunday, police said.
An encounter broke out between militants and security forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir Sunday, police said.(HT File Photo)
         

Four militants of an al- Qaeda affiliate were killed in a predawn firefight with security forces at Panzar in South Kashmir’s Shopian district on Sunday, the Jammu and Kashmir police said. Two of the four had joined the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, the affiliate, just a week ago.

Inspector general of police (Kashmir) Swam Prakash Pani called the anti-insurgency operation in Panzar clean and added that it involved no collateral damage. “Four terrorists were killed and there was no collateral damage during the operation. One of them was active since 2015 and was also principal recruiter for the group,’’ he said.

The four were identified as Showkat Ahmad Mir, Azad Ahmad Khanday, Suhail Ahmad Bhat and Rafi Hassan Mir.

In a statement, the police said Mir was the group’s main recruiter, who had been active since 2015. Mir was earlier affiliated with the home-grown militant group Hizbul Mujahideen (HM).

Zakir Musa, who was killed last month, formed Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind after quitting the HM in 2017.

Almost half of Ansar’s around a dozen militants were killed in December 2018 in Pulwama district. The group was believed to have been almost completely wiped out after Musa’s killing.

The statement said Mir was among the oldest militants in south Kashmir and was wanted for several attacks on security establishments and civilians.

It said Mir was instrumental in the recruitment of the other three militants killed in Panzar. “Two of the militants killed in today’s operation had joined the group only six or seven days ago,’’ the statement said.

There has been a spurt in militant violence in Kashmir in which nine security personnel have been killed since June 12. Five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in an attack on security forces in Anantnag on June 12. Jammu and Kashmir police officer Arshad Khan, who was injured in the attack, died a day later. The Anantnag attack was the worst since the February 14 car bomb attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead in Pulwama.

Security forces have killed 120 militants, including top commanders, so far this year.