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Top LeT commander, accomplice killed in Barzulla encounter

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DGP says 180 militants killed, 138 militants and their associates arrested this year so far

From a distance: Media photographers try to catch a glimpse of the building in flames where the two LeT militants, who got killed, were holed up. PHOTO/Javed Khan

Srinagar: Two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants, including a top Pakistani commander, were on Monday killed in an encounter in Old Barzulla area here, police said.

Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Old Barzulla area of the city here in the early hours of Monday morning after receiving specific inputs about the presence of militants in the area, a police official said.

He said around 7:45 am, when the searches were going on, militants fired upon the forces.

The forces retaliated, ensuing an encounter, the official said.

Two militants were killed in the gunfight, the official said.

Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh said one of the two killed militants was a Pakistani and a top commander of the LeT named Saifullah, who was involved in several recent attacks on security forces in and around Srinagar. Another militant was identified as Irshad Ahmed Dar alias Abu Usama, a resident of Pulwama, who police said was active since May-2019.

“A top Lashkar commander from Pakistan named as Saifullah has been killed in the operation. He was involved in three back-to-back major attacks on security forces in Nowgam, Chadoora and Kandizaal here,” Singh told reporters at a press conference at police control room here.

The DGP said this year so far, Srinagar city has witnessed eight encounters in which 18 militants have been killed.

“In total, this year so far 75 successful anti-militancy operations have been carried out in which 180 terrorists have been killed. Also, 138 militants and their associates have been arrested this year. In terms of operational achievements, it is a record of sorts compared to the last year. The number of both killed and arrested is more this year than the last year,” he said.

The UT’s police chief said all the anti-militancy operations conducted this year “were clean and conducted in a professional manner”.

“Barring one operation at Batamaloo Srinagar, in which a woman got killed unfortunately in a cross-fire, all operations were cleanly conducted by the security forces,” he said.

Asked about the number of fatalities on the security forces’ side, Singh said this year, 19 Jammu and Kashmir policemen lost their life, while 21 CRPF personnel and 15 Army soldiers — majority of them on the LoC – were killed in the UT.

To a question whether militants were trying to set their foot again in Srinagar city, the DGP said security forces were able to take care of the militants because of an “effective intelligence network”.

“Lashkar and all are trying to find their foothold in the city, but our int (intelligence) network is quite good and quite effective and it is because of this effective int network that our troops have been able to find them and take care of them,” he said.

He said at present only one militant was active in the city and so far has been involved in a couple of attacks on the security forces.

“We are looking for him and will bring him to justice very soon,” the DGP said.

About the number of youth who have given up militancy so far in the Valley, Singh said 26 youth, who had joined militancy, “were brought back with the help of their parents and the hardwork of police”.

On a question about a surrender policy, the DGP said there was no official policy yet.

“No youth has been sent out of the UT. Officially there is no policy as yet,” he said.

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