September 2017 News

LeT Chief, Mastermind Behind Yatra Attack Killed

14 September 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: In a major success for the security forces, the 'commander-in-chief of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) Abu Ismail, who was mastermind behind the Amarnath yatra attack, was killed along with his associate in Nowgam area of Srinagar today. The LeT commander and his associate Abu Qasim alias Chota Qasim were killed in a brief gun battle in Nowgam area of Srinagar. Qasim was most wanted militant in South Kashmir as he was mastermind of attack on Amarnath yatris at Anantnag in which eight pilgrims were killed. Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muneer Khan revealed this evening that a joint operation was launched in Nowgam after contact was established at 4.15 pm with the two militants hiding in a house in the area. Khan identified the two militants killed in the encounter as Abu Ismail and Abu Qasim alias Chota Qasim. 'In a brief, crisp encounter, both terrorists were shot dead,' he said. 'Abu Ismail had 15 FIRs against him for murder, dacoity and other militancy related incidents,' Khan said Adding that two AK-47 rifles and other materials were recovered from the dead bodies. When asked who their next 'target' is, Khan said: 'It's not about the next target. Ismail was an A++ category terrorist. It is important to neutralise the militant leadership.' IGP congratulated the police, CRPF personnel and 15 Rashtriya Rifles soldiers for 'executing a wonderful operation with no collateral damage'. Khan refused to divulge further information about the encounter. However, he expressed relief, stating that 'a chapter of terrorists has been closed'. 'Tomorrow is a new day and we will start work afresh,' he said. Major General BS Raju, General Officer Commanding of Counter-Insurgency Victor Force said that the encounter was an important one because Ismail was directly responsible for the death of 14 security personnel and eight civilians. 'We are expecting a vacuum in the LeT leadership now, which should give us more opportunities. Meanwhile, the synergy between all agencies will continue,' he said. It was earlier reported that a manhunt had been launched to hunt down Ismail, a Pakistani national, following the attack on Amarnath pilgrims in July. Ismail had replaced former LeT commander Abu Dujana following the latter's killing in an encounter in August in South Kashmir. And as a precautionary measure, the District Magistrate Srinagar today ordered restrictions (under Section 144 of CrPC) in certain areas of Srinagar falling under the Police Stations of Nowhatta, M R Gunj, Rainawari, Khanyar and Safakadal on September 15 (Friday). The DM has also ordered that teaching activity will remain suspended in all Colleges and Schools in Srinagar district tomorrow. The train services between Banihal and Baramulla have also been suspended as a precautionary measure. And police today arrested a militant of Hizb ul Mujahideen in Ajar area of Bandipora district in North Kashmir. Police said that based on specific information about the movement of some militants, a joint Naka was laid by Bandipora Police, Army's 14 RR and CRPF 3rd Batallion at Gurezmod in Bandipora. 'During naka checking, one militant of HM outfit was apprehended along with arms and ammunition,' he said. He has been identified as Zameer Ahmed Khatana Gujjar, son of Syed Wali Khatana Gujjar, resident of Boniyar, Bandipora. A Chinese pistol, magazine and eight rounds were recovered from his possession. Police today arrested two OGWs of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) from Handwara area of Kupwara district in two separate incidents. Police have seized a hand grenade from each of them. Waheed Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Kachloo Kralgund, was nabbed during routine inspection at a checkpoint near Larganapora Bichwara village of Kralgund on Monday. Police said he was a Hizbul sympathiser. The second OGW, who was arrested was Mohammad Shafi Mir, a resident of Supernaghama. Mir was apprehended at a checkpoint in Qalamabad village on September 12.