July 2016 News

Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizb Working In Tandem In South Kashmir

8 July 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Suhail A Shah

Anantnag: The recent uptick in militant attacks, particularly in the south Kashmir region, might be due to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba cadre working in close coordination, believe security agencies. There have been some audacious attacks in June along the Anantnag-Srinagar stretch of the national highway. Thirteen security force personnel, including eight CRPF men, three BSF personnel and two members of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, have been killed in the three attacks carried out in Pampore, Bijbehara and Anantnag town. As many as 22 personnel of the CRPF were also injured. The Pampore attack , which was most gruesome of the three and probably one of the biggest-ever in the Kashmir valley in terms of casualties, was later claimed by Lashkar-e-Toiba; the Bijbehara attack by Hizb and the Anantnag attack was traced to Lashkar. Despite separate claims for attacks, security agencies believe the militant outfits are working in an absolute tandem, at least, in south Kashmir. A senior police official, on condition of anonymity, said they had inputs that meetings between the cadre of Lashkar and Hizb had taken place before every attack to finalise the modalities and chalk out strategy. 'They have planned every attack together and have provided each other logistics and in some cases even manpower,' the police official said. He said Lashkar commander Abu Dujana, who took over after Abu Qasim was killed last year, had been instrumental in bringing the two outfits together. Dujana is thought to be the mastermind of many attacks, including Pampore on June 25. Security forces came across one such meeting of the militant outfits on June 30 in Pulwama district, a day ahead of Home Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to the Valley. Two militants, including a local and a foreigner, were killed during the gunfight that followed. South Kashmir region has a total of around 60-65 militants presently operating within the five police districts, including Kulgam, Pulwama, Anantnag, Awantipora and Shopian. Only 17 of the total are Lashkar cadre, seven of them foreign nationals. Officially Anantnag and Shopian do not have any Lashkar cadre. However, the June 5 attack on policemen in Anantnag stands testimony that the militants cross over to other areas to strike. 'They operate from different areas under different aliases, particularly the non-locals. Obviously they are provided support by the locals active in that particular area regardless of the outfit,' said a police official from Kulgam district which has highest number (five) of Lashkar men active.