Head of IS-affiliate among six killed in Kashmir

The gunfight was going on when last reports came in. (PTI file photo)

Four militants, including the chief of Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir outfit, a policeman and a civilian were killed in a fierce gunfight between security forces and ultras in Srigufwara area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Friday.
Director General of Police Shesh Pal Vaid, while confirming that four militants were killed in the encounter, tweeted: “The slain terrorists were reportedly affiliated to ISJK (Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir) (sic).”
The slain ISJK chief, Dawood, was a resident of Srinagar. The ISJK is an affiliate of the international terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS) group. This is the first official confirmation of any IS militant being killed in Kashmir. The Centre had so far maintained that IS was not active in the Valley.
In May 2017, the Islamic State on its website had said that its Indian affiliate, "Ansar Gazwatul Hind", was being headed by Zakir Musa, who quit indigenous Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit earlier. Sources said eight to 10 local militants are affiliated with ISJK.
A civilian and a policeman were also killed while two army personnel were injured in the encounter that erupted in Srigufwara area early on Friday morning. The slain civilian, Muhammad Yousuf Rather, was the owner of the building in which militants were hiding, while his wife Hafeeza is battling for her life at SKIMS hospital in Srinagar. 
Reports said youth pelted stones on security forces to disrupt the operation against the besieged militants. However, the forces responded by firing live ammunition, tear gas and pellets, resulting in injuries to at least 10 civilian protesters.
One of the injured civilians, Ubaid Ahmad, suffered a bullet injury in his neck, reports said, adding that he was shifted to a hospital where his condition remains critical. Sources said security forces have cordoned off adjoining Mehand and Khusrai Kalan villages as they believe some militants might have fled following the gunfight.

The cordon and search operations (CASO) against militants, which had been suspended by the Centre for a month during the Ramzan, resumed after Eid last week. On Tuesday, three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants were killed in the Tral area of Pulwama district during a CASO by the security forces.
There are reports that the army plans to launch a major crackdown against the militants, who expanded their operations during the ceasefire. With Governor Rule imposed in the state two days ago after the fall of the PDP-BJP alliance government, the army will go after the militants hard.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has approved the induction of the elite National Security Guards' (NSG) commandos to take part in anti-militancy operations in Kashmir. More than 10 commandos are camping at the Border Security Force station at Humhuma, on the outskirts of Srinagar, where they are being trained for over a week to acclimatise themselves with the anti-militancy operations. 
Officials say the participation of NSG commandos in anti-militancy operations would help reduce casualties among security forces. Last year nearly 220 militants, 80 security forces' personnel and 70 civilians lost their lives in militancy-related incidents in Kashmir. 

This year, till now, around 195 people, including 55 civilians, 92 militants and 48 police, army and paramilitary personnel have been killed. Around 60 locals are suspected to have joined militancy in the first five months this year.

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Head of IS-affiliate among six killed in Kashmir


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