Kashmir militant leader killed in gunfight

Tral, Kashmir: Militant commander Sabzar Ahmad Bhat - who is believed to have replaced Burhan Wani as the Hizbul Mujahideen's operational chief in Kashmir - was killed by security forces on Saturday morning.

Five police personnel were also injured during the clashes and have been taken to police hospital here for treatment, the official said.

The security forces are better equipped to handle stone-pelters this time, as compared to past year, when, during protests in the wake of Burhan Wani's killing, a large number of civilians received injuries in their eyes and on their faces due to the use of pellet guns by the CRPF.

Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, 22, who succeeded slain Hizbul leader Burhan Wani, and his associate died in a gun battle in Soimoh village near Tral town, Pulwama district.

"Immediately after the said message was spread on a social media platform, locals at five locations came out and were indulging in stone pelting", said the police official.

Several armed rebel groups are fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir, with tens of thousands of people, majority civilians, killed in the almost three decades-old conflict.

Clashes between rock-throwing protesters and government forces erupted in different places in the area, with police and paramilitary soldiers firing shotgun pellets and tear gas to stop the protests. Vaid claimed that the young man had been killed by crossfire.

Sabzar Bhat succeeded charismatic leader Burhan Wani after he was martyred in a gunfight in July, which triggered months of anti-India protests in which almost 100 people died. "Strict curfew will be imposed in areas under eight police stations", said Srinagar's deputy police commissioner, Farooq Ahmad Lone.

Reports said the three houses in the locality were completely damaged.

In another operation, six unidentified terrorists were killed by security forces foiling a major infiltration bid along the LoC in Rampur sector of Baramulla district.

Meanwhile, according to District Magistrate Anantnag strict restrictions would be in place in the territorial jurisdiction of the district tomorrow on 28 May 2017 to prevent breach of peace and loss of life in view of the prevailing law and order situation.

Sabzar's death further stoked separatist sentiment in the Valley with hundreds of protesters shouting anti- India slogans and hurling stones in dozens of areas in south Kashmir.

The two countries have fought three wars - in 1948, 1965 and 1971 - since they were partitioned in 1947, two over Kashmir.

  • Zachary Reyes