LeT commander, aide killed in Pulwama encounter

LeT commander, aide killed in Pulwama encounter
Two  Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed in an encounter in south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Saturday morning while a civilian died and more than a dozen were injured in subsequent clashes between security forces and stone-pelting protesters.

Sources said security forces launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) in Litter village Pulwama, 32 km from here during the wee hours on Saturday following information about the presence of a group of militants in the area.

“As the security forces intensified the search operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off an encounter in which two local militants were killed,” they said.

Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Shesh Pal Vaid identified the slain militants as LeT district Pulwama commander Waseem Ahmad Shah and Nisar Ahmad Mir, both locals. “Both LeT terrorists killed in a clean operation. Well done JKP boys and other SF (security forces),” he tweeted.

Shah, also known by his alias Usama, according to police records, was a category A++ militant, while Mir was a category-C militant. Security forces have recovered an AK-47 and an AK-56 along with 6 AK magazines. A resident of Heff, Shopian, Shah, who had joined militancy in 2014, was on the army's most wanted list of 12 militants.

Police said Shah, a college dropout, was responsible for recruiting young people to join the LeT and had planned several attacks on security forces. Reports said as news about the killings of local militants spread in the area, announcements were made through mosque public address systems asking people to come out and stage protests.

Protesters from the village and adjacent areas gathered in large numbers pelting stones at the forces and shouting anti-India slogans. The forces responded by firing pellets, bullets and lobbing teargas shells in which more than a dozen people were injured. One of the injured, identified as Gulzar Mir, who had sustained a gunshot died in a hospital, reports added.

The latest encounter comes just five days after a top commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed, Umer Khalid, a Pakistani national was killed in an encounter with security forces in north Kashmir's Sopore area.

More than 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.

Meanwhile, militants hurled a grenade at a paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) party in Safa Kadal area of the old city in Srinagar on Saturday which failed to explode. A Bomb Disposal Squad was rushed to the area, who defused the device, police said.
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