Shopian militant killings can weaken local support for foreign ultras in Valley

Shopian militant killings can weaken local support for foreign ultras in Valley

The killing of 13 local militants in a single day on Sunday has dealt a serve blow to the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba outfits as it has the potential to weaken the local support structure for foreign militants operating in south Kashmir.

It was for the first time in over a decade that security forces killed as many as 13 militants in a single day in the hinterland and all of them were local boys most of whom had joined the militant ranks in last one year.

"It (killing of local militants) is a big blow to the plans of Hizbul and LeT in south Kashmir as foreign militants can't survive for long without support of local ultras who know the topography. The killing of 13 local militants in a single day is definitely going to down the morale of the remaining ultras," a senior police officer involved in counter-insurgency operations told DH.

He said the militants from Hizbul and LeT were scheduled to plan for future coordination and had called a joint meeting when the security forces received "specific input".

"We traced cell phones of the militants to get the exact location. A call made by one of the militants to more of his associates to join them at the house proved very effective in zeroing in on the house," the officer said.

He said while 13 militants were killed in three separate operations on Sunday, at least six ultras still managed to escape from one of the encounter sites.

"Four local Hizbul militants, including commander Zeenat-ul-Islam alias Alqama, managed to give forces a slip during the initial exchange of fire at Kachdoora, Shopian. Two more militants injured in the encounter were rescued by the locals from the debris of a house," he revealed.

The trend of local youths joining militancy has gone up since the killing of Burhan Wani in July 2016, with reportedly nearly two dozen young boys picking up arms this year, eight of them in just the past fortnight.

Security forces killed nearly 220 militants, including influential commander, in 2017 while 46 ultras have been neutralised this year.

However, according to officials, despite the successful operations against militants, the number of ultras is more or less the same as it was at the beginning of 2017.

They reason the fresh recruitment for numbers not dropping.  

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