The “divisional commander” of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Yasir alias Yasir Tunda was killed in Rafiabad area of Baramulla district in the early hours of Saturday in a joint operation by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police and the army.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Shiv Murari Sahai, told The Hindu that the operation was launched after Sopore Police received a tip off late on Friday, suggesting the presence of the JeM commander at the hideout. SOG Sopore and Rashtriya Rifles 22 Bn swooped on the militant at the house of Ali Mohammad Bhat at Chatlora village.

Early on Saturday, after evacuating the civilian population, SOG Sopore’s commandoes raided the hideout, Mr Sahai said. He said that Yasir, who was a Pakistani militant and JeM’s top commander in Sopore area and operated with code names of Showkat, Shoaib and Shehzeb, was killed in a brief exchange of gunfire. Sub Inspector Dilraj of SOG Sopore sustained a gunshot injury.

The IGP described Yasir’s killing as a major achievement for the police and security forces and a setback for the JeM. Yasir had taken over the leadership after the death of “chief commander” Qari Hamaad in an encounter with the police at Fore Shore Road around Dal Lake in Srinagar last year.

Superintendent of Police, Sopore, Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, added that Yasir was involved in a number of terror attacks on police, security forces and the civilians. According to him, Yasir had shot dead Peoples Democratic Party’s Sopore Zone President, Ghulam Mohammad Mir, at Ladoora in 2008. At Chatlora, where Yasir was killed, he had earlier gunned down a ruling National Conference (NC) activist, Ghulam Mohiuddin.

According to the police a laptop, an AK-47 assault rifle and one Chinese pistol were recovered from the site of the encounter.

Sources said Yasir, along with two associates, had recently escaped from a cordon-and-search operation at Divar village in Kupwara district. Mostly operating in Lolab, Yasir had been active in north Kashmir districts of Kupwara and Baramulla.