Abu Qasim, a Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist involved in several attacks on security forces in the past few years, was killed in an operation at Khandaypora in Kulgam district, more than 60 km from here, early on Thursday.
The police had launched multiple searches for Qasim after he killed a top counter-insurgency officer, Altaf Ahmad, on Tuesday. On a tip-off, security forces laid an ambush for him around 2 a.m.
“His death has broken the back of militancy in Kashmir,” Inspector-General of Police Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani said.
In a statement, the Army described the killing as “a major success”. An Army spokesman said the killing of 18 militants, including three top commanders in just two months, had struck a significant blow to the terrorists.
Abdul Rehman, alias Abu Qasim, from Multan in Pakistan first caught the attention of security agencies in 2013 when he attacked an Army convoy on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway in Hyderpora. Eight soldiers were killed. Qasim was carrying a reward of Rs. 10 lakh on his head after he succeeded in evading cordons and giving the slip to counter-insurgency personnel. His name figures in around a dozen attacks on security forces.
“He had been active for five years now and behind most attacks carried out against the security forces,” Mr. Gillani said.
The police said he was involved in the recent ambush on a BSF convoy in the Udhampur area.
Protests erupted after the killing of Qasim, and the police had to fire blank shots to disperse crowds. A shutdown was observed in Kulgam and other areas. People offered prayers during the last rites in Budgam district. Some youth were seen carrying Pakistani flags during the funeral procession.
Separatist groups, which include factions of the Hurriyat and Deeni Mahaz, praised Qasim “for his heroic role”.
A soldier was killed on Wednesday afternoon, as the operation launched by the security forces to eliminate Qasim entered its second day. After a brief encounter with the security personnel of a search operation, Qasim yesterday fled from the gunbattle site, taking advantage of the green cover in the dense forest range.
On Wednesday afternoon, the hiding militants killed a soldier of the army’s 14 Rashtriya Rifles during a firefight in the forest range. The soldier was injured in the firing and succumbed later at the hospital. > More...