Kashmir: Top Jaish commander among 5 terrorists killed

A top Pakistani Jaish-e-Muhammed commander who had masterminded the 2017 fidayeen attack on a CRPF camp in Lethpora that left five jawans dead was among five terrorists killed in two separate encounters in Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts. Two civilians and two soldiers also lost their lives.

A third encounter was reported from Kandi forest in Kupwara district. Kupwara SSP Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar said the encounter was on in the upper reaches of Kandi when reports last came in.

A police spokesman said the Jaish commander, Khalid Bhai, and two other JeM terrorists — Naseer Pandith of Karmibad Pulwama and Umar Mir of Shopian — were slain at Dalipora village of Pulwama on Thursday. The exchange of fire had started early on Wednesday when the terrorists fired on a joint team of police and Army personnel conducting a cordon-and-search operation in the village.

In the initial phase, three soldiers and two civilians, brothers Younis Dar and Rayees Ahmad Dar, were injured. Rayees died soon after while his brother was rushed to a nearby hospital, from where he was referred to Srinagar. The injured soldiers were airlifted to the Army’s 92 Base hospital at Badami Bagh, Srinagar, where one of them, Sandeep Kumar, died.

Soon after the encounter ended, villagers clashed with security forces at various places in Pulwama district. The authorities then imposed curfew and suspended internet services in the south Kashmir district. Khalid had been active in Kashmir for the last eight years, a police officer said, terming his killing a “major success”. According to police records, Naseer Pandith had a long history of crime before he joined JeM. He was also involved in the 2018 killing of a policeman, Mohammad Yaqoob Shah of Pulwama, on the eve of Eid. Umar Mir was involved in several terror strikes and had been part of groups responsible for attacks on security forces, the police said.

The second encounter, in the Handew area of Shopian, broke out as Army and CRPF personnel were carrying out a cordon-and-search operation on Thursday afternoon. A police officer confirmed that two militants were killed along with a civilian and a soldier.

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