Lashkar's chief in Kashmir shot dead
28 March 2001
The Asian Age
Srinagar: The counter-insurgency Special Operation Group of Jammu and Kashmir police on Wednesday claimed that it killed a top commander of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba in a “chance encounter” in the central district of Budgam. Deputy inspector-general of police (Kashmir range) K. Rajendra said that Lashkar-e-Tayyaba commander Salahuddin Ayubi was killed in retaliatory fire opened by the policemen when he and his colleagues ambushed the vehicle they were travelling in at Puhroo in Budgam district just outside Srinagar on Wednesday afternoon. Ayubi, also known as Abu Obaida, Tariq Mehmood and Abu Rehman, was killed instantly. However, his colleagues managed to escape, the police said. According to the police official, Ayubi was the commander (operations) of the Lashkar and had been involved in a number of fidayeen attacks, including the ones on the Srinagar airport and the police control room. These surprise attacks by militants killed a number of CRPF and local policemen. The police also claimed that Ayub’s real name was Tariq Mehmood and that he hailed from Sheikapora in Punjab province of Pakistan. The Lashkar has yet to confirm the death of its senior commander. Meanwhile, vernacular newspaper offices received statements from the local residents, alleging that the slain militant was actually brought to the scene of “encounter” in a police Gypsy and the shot dead at the point-blank range by the SOG policemen. The police strongly denied the charge that Ayubi was killed in a fake encounter. Mr Rajendra described the incident as a “chance encounter” and reiterated that Ayubi was one of the most wanted Pakistani militants operating in the Valley for quite some time. He had escaped from the scene both when militants attacked a CRPF post and the Srinagar police control room.