Top Lashkar Militant Among 4 Others Killed in Baramulla After Long Gunfight
Srinagar: In what the counter-insurgency establishment called a "big success", the police claimed to have killed a top Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant, Yousuf Kantroo, among three others in a gunfight in north Kashmir's Baramulla district.
According to senior police officials, the encounter between militants and the forces occurred in Malwah village in which, during the initial firing, one civilian and three soldiers were injured. Later another soldier and a Jammu and Kashmir cop were also wounded. All the injured were evacuated for treatment and their condition is said to be stable. The injured policeman from Baramulla district was later shifted to Army’s base hospital in Srinagar.
In the encounter, which began last night and continued for the next day, another local militant was recently recruited into the militant ranks and identified as 17-year-old Faisal Hafeez Dar of Aaripanth village in the Magam area was also killed. The police on Friday added that two other non-local militants were also killed in the encounter, taking the toll to 4.
"Kantroo was involved in several killings of civilians and Security Forces personnel, including the recent killing of JKP's SPO and his brother, one soldier and one civilian in Budgam district. " Inspector General Police (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar said a big success for us.
Kantroo, according to the IGP, had killed Block Development Council (BDC) Chairman Sardar Bhupinder Singh on September 23, 2020, in his own native place in the Khag area of central Kashmir's Beerwah, in which case FIR No 79/20 was registered against him in police station Khag.
The LeT militant was, according to sources, mostly active in central Kashmir areas of Budgam, where he played a key role in keeping the militant network activated, especially in the last few years. A police official said that Kantroo worked for militancy since 2000 and had recycled as a militant twice since then, which meant that he left militancy and joined again.
Kantroo, according to police, had earlier joined as an Over Ground Worker (OGW) of the Hizb outfit and was arrested in the year 2005. After his release in 2008, he joined militant ranks in the year 2017 and targeted civilians, policemen and political workers in the meantime switched from Hizb to LeT outfit.
Since January, as many as 58 militants have been killed so far across the region. Kantroo's killing leaves only two other high profile militant targets in the valley, including Riyaz Ahmad Dar, a resident of Sethargun village of Pulwama's Kakapora and Zubair Wani, the top commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit. Even as the militant recruitments fell drastically since last year, there has been an increase in militant attacks since March, including against the civilians.
The encounter ensued after intelligence from Budgam police which, along with 62 RR of the Indian Army, launched a joint cordon and searched operation in Mahwah. A video from the encounter site circulated on social media, in which the mother of Faisal was brought in by forces to convince Faisal to surrender.
Even as the firing has stopped from both sides, the security forces have not called off the operation on the second day to carry out a combing operation in the area.
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