Post-Burhan, count of foreign militants up by 150% in Valley

SRINAGAR: The insurgency in Kashmir strengthened its hold this year as the number of foreign militants operating in the Valley has more than doubled during the months of paralysing unrest, according to police records.

Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, December 19

The insurgency in Kashmir strengthened its hold this year as the number of foreign militants operating in the Valley has more than doubled during the months of paralysing unrest, according to police records.

The surge of foreign militants indicates an “escalation of 151 per cent” as their number leaped from 71, prior to the unrest, to 178 during the unrest which began on July 8 and led to a halt in counter-insurgency operations.

Most of the foreign militants remain affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which now contributes almost 50 per cent of the total militants operating in the region. “The reason for increase in foreign militants is the successful infiltration bids that occurred during the unrest and suspension of well-coordinated anti-militancy operations,” says a police document discussing the increased influx of foreign militants.

The anti-militancy operations had remained suspended for several months following the July 8 gunfight in which militant commander Burhan Wani was killed, triggering a widespread spell of protests in the region.

Foreign militants have been involved in some of the most deadly attacks this year which caused heavy death toll among security forces. The foreign militants were involved in almost all fidayeen attacks that were carried on security forces installations this year, including the attack on an Army base near north Kashmir’s Uri town in which 20 soldiers were killed.

Most of the foreign militants, according to police records, remain in districts of north Kashmir, bordering the Line of Control from where the militants infiltrate into the Valley. Some have been killed in counter-insurgency operations and while carrying out the attacks.

The influx of foreign militants and the addition of local recruits have also led to a surge in the number of total militants operating in the region, which has also almost doubled. “The overall local recruitment figures and foreign militant figures indicates 95 per cent escalation during the unrest,” the police document states.

The number of total militants operating in the region is estimated to be 235 to 250, out of whom 217 are named and categorised. Among the categorised militants, 107 are linked to the Lashkar, 89 to the Hizbul Mujahideen, 19 to Jaish-e-Mohammed and two to Al Badr.

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