Kashmir: LeT commander involved in killing of six cops shot dead

Kashmir: LeT commander involved in killing of six cops shot dead

Kashmir: LeT commander involved in killing of six cops shot dead
In a major setback to terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), its top commander Bashir Lashkari was killed in an encounter with security forces along with his associate in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on Saturday.

Lashkari, according to police, was involved in the killing of six cops, including a station house officer, in Achabal area of the same district last month.

Two civilians, 44-year-old Tahira Begum and 21-year-old Shadab Ahmad Chopan, were also killed and dozens of others injured after security forces fired to disperse protesters marching towards the encounter site in Brinthi-Batpora near Dailgam of Anantnag district, about 60 km south of Srinagar.

Police said that following specific information about the presence of Lashkari in Brinthi-Batpora, security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation early Saturday morning. "While the cordon was being laid some militants fired upon security personnel, which was retaliated. In the crossfire, one woman was wounded, who later on succumbed to her wounds," Inspector General Police (IGP) Kashmir, Muneer Khan told reporters.

After a brief exchange of fire, militants took refuge inside a cluster of residential houses, where 17 civilians, including women, were trapped, he said. However, locals said that people rushed to the houses to help the militants escape from the cordon. A police statement in the afternoon accused militants of holding civilians as human shields.

However, later all the civilians were evacuated and the troops made a fresh assault on the house where the militants were hiding, police said. "Two LeT militants, including Lashkari were neutralised in the gun fight which lasted for several hours," the IGP said and added Lashkari was behind the killing of six cops including SHO in Achabal Feroz Dar area of Anantnag on June 16.

Lashkari, a resident of neighbouring Kokernag area, was an A++ category militant who carried Rs 10 lakh bounty on his head. He had crossed over to Pakistan occuped Kashmir for arms training in 1999 and returned under state government amnesty scheme announced by Omar Abdullah government in 2012. Lashkari was jailed till 2014 and got recycled into militancy in 2015.  He was also involved in many rifle snatching incidents in south Kashmir.

Eyewitnesses told Deccan Herald over phone that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were used by the forces to blast the house in which militants were trapped. They said as the encounter was going on hundreds of people, mostly youth, marched to the spot hurling stones and brickbats in a bid to help militants break through the siege. Security forces fired tear gas shells and bullets to disperse the protesters in which one more protester was killed while more than a dozen were injured.

The authorities blocked access to internet and cellphone services in some parts of south Kashmir after the incident. Lashkari's killing is the second blow to LeT in last two weeks as another senior commander of the outfit Junaid Mattoo was neutralised in a gunfight at neighbouring Arwani village on June 16. Earlier in May, police had killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sabzar Bhat.
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