Top JeM man killed in Sopore

Two more militants killed in ongoing Shopian encounter

Top JeM man killed in Sopore
A top commander of Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit was killed in an encounter with security forces in north Kashmir's Sopore area while two more militants were killed in a separate gun battle in south Kashmir's Shopian district on Monday.

Police said the Jaish commander Umer Khalid, a Pakistani national, was killed after security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Ladoora, Sopore, 52 kms from here, following information about the presence of militants in the area.

"Khalid, who usually would roam with a pistol and grenades, opened fire on the search party. In the retaliatory action he was killed," Superintendent Police, Sopore Harmeet Singh told DH.

He said Khalid was active in north Kashmir for last five to six years and was instrumental in arranging recruits for the terror outfit. "He was involved in over a dozen terror attacks and recently had carried out an attack on a Special Police Officer and his seven-year-old son at Handwara," the SP said.

Earlier Director General Police (DGP) Shesh Pal Vaid termed Khalid's killing as a major breakthrough for the security forces. Sources said the slain commander played a major role in the fidayeen (suicide) attack on the district police lines in Pulwama a month ago in which eight security personnel were killed.

The police is also probing his role in the recent attack carried out by the Jaish on BSF battalion headquarters near high-security Srinagar airport.

In a separate encounter two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militants were killed in Gatipora village of Shopian. Police said the gunfight began after a joint party of army, special operations group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF cordoned off the area following specific inputs about the presence of militants.

The militants hiding in the village opened fire after security forces approached the suspected site, drawing retaliation from the forces.

DGP Vaid said that two militants have been killed so far. “Encounter is still on,” he tweeted.

Nearly 150 militants, including top commanders Sabzar Bhat, Junaid Matoo, Ayoub Lelhari, Bashir Lashkari, Abu Dujana and Mehmood Gaznavi, have been killed by the security forces this year, which is highest in the last eight years. The security forces are going after militants as part of operation "hunt down" and on the basis of a “hit list” of militants.

With Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfits receiving major setbacks at the hands of security forces, Maulana Masood Azhar’s led terror outfit Jaish has taken a frontal role in carrying out strikes on security forces.

While Jaish has carried out two major fidayeen attacks in the last over a month, police has warned that the terror outfit may carry more attacks in coming days. "16 to 17 Jaish militants had been sent by Pakistan specifically to carry out fidayeen attacks in Kashmir. We have killed 10 out of these militants but still six to seven are at large," Kashmir IGP Muneer Khan said after latest week's fidayeen attack near Srinagar airport.

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