A top Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander was killed on Monday in an 18-hour gunfight between security forces and ultras in north Kashmir’s Sopore town.
However, another militant managed to flee from the encounter site at Krankshiven Colony, sources said.
A senior police officer told Deccan Herald that LeT commander Mehmood Bhai alias Abu Huraira, a Pakistani national, was killed in the 18-hour gun battle while his accomplice Javed Ahmad Matoo, a local militant, escaped.
“Matoo, who was trapped inside a house along with Huraira, managed to escape when a joint team of security forces was clearing the debris. Matoo surfaced from the debris and started to fire indiscriminately. In the melee, he managed to escape from the cordoned-off area,” the officer said.
Earlier, sources said, the police had also summoned Matoo’s parents. Eyewitnesses told Deccan Herald over the phone that Matoo’s mother was camping near the gunfight site and made repeated pleas to her son to surrender.
The mother reportedly shouted: “Javida lajya mouj karta ta surrender (Javid drop your gun and surrender).” However, they said, the militant did not relent.
Commander of the Army’s 5-Sector, Brigadier Alok Joshi, told reporters at the encounter site that they were searching for Huraira for several years.
“He had escaped four times after breaking through cordons. Even today, he tried to break through the tight cordon at around 2 am and was almost out of the area when he got hit and died. He was unparalleled in the art of escaping,” he said.
Police sources said Huraira was the militant who had escaped from an encounter in the Ahmed Nagar area of Srinagar last October. They termed his death as a major setback for the LeT in the Valley.
Police said troops of the Army’s 22 and 52 Rashtriya Rifles battalions, and Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir police cordoned off the area at around 5:15 pm on Sunday.