The Army and the Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday claimed to have killed Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfit’s operational chief Qari Yasir alias Omar Khitab in an encounter in Kupwara district.

General Officer Commanding 15 Corps Lt. Gen Gurmit Singh and Inspector- General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Abdul Gani Mir told journalists at a news briefing that Qari Yasir, who had operated in the Valley since 2006, died in the encounter with the police and security forces at Gadwad in the morning. One AK-56 rifle and a hand grenade were recovered from him. They said that the operation was launched following a tip-off about Yasir’s presence in a house.

Mr. Mir said Yasir was a resident of Nooristan in Swat valley of NWFP in Pakistan. He was involved in a number of militant attacks on security forces and soft civilian targets. As many as 11 FIRs were registered against him in Kupwara district.

Most of the time, he operated in Rajwar, Lolab, Handwara, Vodhpura, Kandi and Chandigam areas of Kupwara.

The IGP said that Yasir had remained in close contact of Seed Baba alias Mufti Sahab of JeM in Pakistan who used to facilitate infiltration from Keran and Machil sector of Kupwara. He received and dispatched most of the infiltrating groups to the whole of Kashmir valley and some Jammu districts.

Informed sources told The Hindu that Yasir was a highly trained computer and communications expert.

Army sources said a special manhunt was launched for Yasir after he had gunned down a soldier of Rashtriya Rifles 31 battalion in an encounter in Lolab on July 10 and escaped. However, he got hit in the leg and was hiding in Mohammad Amin Malla’s house. When the troops entered a cowshed at Malla’s house for a search, Yasir opened fire. He was killed in the brief encounter that followed.