Srinagar, January 30
A self-styled top commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Zahid Manzoor Wani, was among five militants killed in two overnight encounters in Kashmir, officials said on Sunday. Terming it a major success for the security forces, the officials said Wani alias Uzair, from Karimabad village in Pulwama district, was involved in various killings and IED blasts in south Kashmir.
“Two operations were conducted by the police and security forces in Pulwama and Budgam districts, resulting in the killing of five terrorists who were associated with JeM and Lashkar,” a police statement said. Following inputs about the presence of militants at Naira village in Pulwama, a joint team of the Army, police and CRPF cordoned off the area on Saturday evening. The militants fired indiscriminately on the joint search parties, but the security personnel retaliated only after ensuring all the trapped civilians were evacuated to safety, the police said.
2 commandos hurt
- Two commandos of Garud Special Forces were wounded in the gunfight in Pulwama
- Those hurt are Sqn Ldr Sandeep Jhanjaria and Corporal Anand
- They were evacuated to Army hospital in Srinagar
“In the initial assault, three militants were killed and later the presence of another militant was established. He too was killed and identified as Zahid Manzoor Wani,” said Lieutenant General Prashant Srivastava, General Officer-in-Command, Victor Force. He said Wani was the mastermind of IED attacks carried out in south Kashmir since 2017 and the main recruiter of local boys into militant ranks.
Kashmir IGP Vijay Kumar said Wani was the JeM chief for entire Kashmir. Wani joined militancy in May 2017 and his brother was arrested at an encounter site in Jammu in January 2020 and is currently lodged in jail.
The police said among the militants killed in Pulwama was Kafeel Bhai alias Chhotu, a Pakistani who was active in Pulwama-Shopian belt since 2020. The IGP said a “hybrid militant”, Inayat Ahmad, who refused to surrender, was killed too.
In the second encounter at Tilsara village in Budgam, Bilal Khan of Chill-Brass Khansahab, who had recently joined militancy and was affiliated with the LeT, was killed. — OC
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