AjeyoLAST UPDATED: Oct. 23, 2019, 2:14 p.m.
Srinagar, Oct 23: The Jammu & Kashmir police identified the three terrorists in killed an encounter in Rajpora-Awantipora late on Tuesday evening as local cadres of the Ansar Ghazwatul Hind (AGH), an Al Qaeda linked outfit.
The police said the slain terrorists included the group's current chief Hameed Lelhari, who had succeeded AGH founder and former chief Zakir Musa.
Musa was killed during the intervening night of May 23-24 this year in Tral.
Addressing a press conference at the police headquarters in Srinagar, Police Chief Dilbagh Singh said that with the killing of these terrorists, the AGH has almost been wiped out from Kashmir adding there could be remnants of the outfit.
He identified the other two slain terrorists as Junaid Rasheed and Naveed Tak.
Singh said that Pakistan is desperately trying to destabilize the situation in Kashmir and create unrest, particularly after the abrogation of Article 370. He said the security grid is well aware of the same and taking all measures to counter the Pakistani designs.
Informing that terrorist recruitment during past over two & half months has not increased, the Police Chief said after August 5 decisions of abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K into two union territories, there was apprehension about surge in joining terrorist ranks by the Kashmiri youth.
He however, pointed out that the same did not happen and only 5 to 6 youths have been reported to have gone missing during the period adding that the police are verifying whether these youths have joined terrorist ranks or not.
Dilbagh Singh said terrorist outfits Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e--Tayyeba (LeT) are continuing their efforts to forge unity and coordination among Hizb and other outfits.
Singh also said that the situation in the Kashmir Valley is normalising and improving with each passing day since August 5. He said all maximum support and coordination shall be provided in the conduct of upcoming secondary, higher secondary and other annual examinations in the Kashmir Valley.
He added that security arrangements have been planned for Block Development Council (BDC) polls in the state which are scheduled for October 24.
A joint team of security forces launched Tuesday evening's operation on the basis of specific information about the presence of terrorists in an area on the Rajpora-Awantipora-Tral axis. Officials informed that as the forces zeroed in on the suspected place, the hiding terrorists fired indiscriminately, triggering gunfight.
This was the second gunfight in Awantipora and the third in the south Kashmir region in the last two weeks.
With these killings, the toll of slain terrorists has reached 12. These terrorists have been killed in six separate encounters since August 5, when the central government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated J&K into two union territories.
Earlier, On October 16, three local militants of Lashkar e Tayyaba (LeT) were killed in Pazalpora Bijbehara encounter in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
On October 8, two local LeT terrorists were killed in an encounter in Kawani Brabindina area of Awantipora in Pulwama district. A civilian had also been injured near the gunfight site.
Two suspected Pakistani terrorists were killed in the Trumkhal Gangbal Naraanag area of Ganderbal district, connecting an axis along the LoC in Gurez sector of north Bandipora.
The search and sanitisation operation had been carried out between September 28 and October 15.
Significantly, one Kashmiri family from Sopore had claimed that one among slain militants is their son while demanding DNA sampling. The police are working on the claim as the family members demanded hand over of the terrorist's body recently in Srinagar Press Enclave.
Two local terrorists had been killed earlier in two separate encounters in Baramulla (August 21) and Sopore (September 11).
Aasif Suhaf, News24
Photo: Google Image