Kashmir's Key Militant Group Suffers Casualties

10 April 2008

Srinagar: In a spate of mounting losses, five more militants, including three commanders of the front ranking Kashmiri militant group, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, were killed in separate encounters with the Indian army in past 24 hours. One report said Indian troops cordoned off a mountain village in northern Udhampur village following information of militant presence there. After zeroing in the army asked the militants to surrender, reports said. But the latter opened heavy fire on the troops, sparking off a several hours gun battle that left four militants dead, police sources said. Two rifles, one pistol, and other arms and ammunition were recovered from the slain militants. A top Hizb militant, Muhammad Iqbal Malik, alias Haroon, was killed in a gun battle with the Special Task Force of the police in Kishwar area later in the night. Mass protests broke out following the news of the encounter. Police was forced to hand over the slain militant's body to people for proper burial after a large procession by locals this morning. The militant's next-of-kin took the body after funeral prayers at the Kishwar Grand Mosque. Some seven militants have been killed in Doda and Kishtwar over the past few days,. Police in Indian controlled Kashmir has indicated a rise in violence ahead of elections for the state assembly scheduled to be held later this year.