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Zakir Musa believed to have been killed

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Restrictions in Srinagar areas, Budgam & south Kashmir today, classwork to remain suspended in schools, colleges in Kashmir; mobile internet suspended

Srinagar: The Kashmir Valley’s most wanted militant commander, Zakir Musa, who headed the Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Gazwatul Hind, was killed on Thursday by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Informed sources said the security forces started a cordon and search operation in Dadsara village of Tral area following information about the presence of two militants there.

“The trapped militants were persuaded to surrender. Instead they hurled grenades and started a gunfight, triggering an encounter,” a source said.

One of the dead was identified as Zakir Musa.

Zakir Musa, a close associate of Burhan Wani who was killed in 2017, was a militant of Hizbul Mujahideen who succeeded Burhan and later headed the Al Qaeda affiliate. He had taken to militancy in 2013.

Zakir Rashid Bhat, his real name, was an engineering student in Chandigarh who abandoned education and joined militancy.

He was born in Noorpora village of Tral area. His father, Abdul Rashid Bhat, is a senior engineer working for the Jammu and Kashmir government.

After Burhan Wani’s death, Zakir Musa threatened to behead Kashmiri separatist leaders of the Hurriyat Conference for calling Kashmir a political dispute instead of a religious struggle to establish an Islamic state.

Authorities have suspended mobile Internet services across Kashmir valley as a precautionary measure.

Authorities have ordered closure of all schools and colleges in the Kashmir Valley on Friday.

Reports about Musa's death had started circulating on social media during the encounter, but senior police officials maintained that firing was still on and the trapped militants, believed to be two in number, were still firing and hurling grenades.

Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said, "The firing is still on. We will be able to give the identity of the militants only after the encounter ends."

In the meantime, Jammu and Kashmir police announced restrictions in some areas of Pulwama, Awantipora, Srinagar, Anantnag and Budgam as a precautionary measure, they said.

The officials said the decision was made keeping in view the Friday prayer gatherings.

Meanwhile, mobile internet services were snapped across the Kashmir Valley on Thursday as precautionary measure.

The officials said BSNL's broadband service was working.

Authorities today said that class work in all schools and colleges in Kashmir will remain suspended tomorrow as a precautionary measure to avoid any law and order situation.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan said that classwork in all schools and colleges will remained suspended in Kashmir.

The decision of the authorities follows in the wake of reported killing of militant commander Zakir Musa in an encounter with security forces in Dadsara Tral in Pulwama district Thursday evening.

SSP Srinagar Dr Haseeb Mughal told Kashmir News Service (KNS) that restrictions will be put in place in Downtown area of Srinagar.

He said that reports of imposing curfew in Srinagar are baseless.

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