ISJK militant killed in Kashmir’s Shopian

PTI file photo for representation.

A militant belonging to Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) - led by Zakir Musa - was killed in a pre-dawn encounter with security forces in south Kashmir’s restive Shopian district on Friday.
Sources said on a credible input about the presence of militants in Amshipora-Ramnagri village of the district, 52 kms from here, a cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) was launched by the army and special operations group of Jammu and Kashmir police during wee hours of Friday.
They said the gunfight began after the militants fired upon a search party from a residential house, where they were hiding. “In the retaliatory action, one militant was killed,” they said and identified the slain militant as Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi, a close aide of Zakir Musa.
Sources said Sofi alias Abdulla bhai was a commander of the ISJK, an ISIS-inspired module, with Musa as its chief. In May 2017, Islamic State (ISIS) on its website had said that its Indian affiliate, ‘Ansar Gazwatul Hind’ was being headed by Musa, who quit indigenous Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit earlier. 
That time police believed eight to ten local militants were affiliated with ISJK. Since then eight of its ultras have been killed and police sources say Musa is the lone surviving militant of the outfit now. 
Musa, who joined militancy after leaving his B. Tech course in Chandigarh in 2013, professes an ideology similar to that of the Islamic State (ISIS)—to establish the Shariat or the Islamic law in the state. He was the close associate of 21-year-old Burhan Wani, new face of Kashmir militancy, who was killed in an encounter with security forces on July 8 last year.
Musa, who is said to be operating in upper reaches of south Kashmir’s Tral area, quit Hizbul in 2017 after he called separatist leaders “hypocrites, infidels and followers of evil.” 
Meanwhile, the frequency of encounters between the militants and security forces have come down in the recent weeks after the Lok Sabha polls began. Police and Army maintain that situation in Kashmir has improved during the past one year.
According to official figures 78 militants have been killed this year while the number was 272 in 2018. Post February 14 Pulwama fidayeen (suicide) attack, 46 militants have been killed, of them 25 belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit.
Even the civilian casualties during encounters have gone down significantly in the first three months of this year, compared to the last year.

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