Security forces cordoned off and launched a search operation in Chandergeer village in Hajin area of the district after receiving specific intelligence input about the presence of militants in the area, a police official said. (Representational Image)
Srinagar: 6 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists including 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi's nephew Owaid were gunned down in an encounter in Hajin area of Jammu and Kashmir's northern Bandipore district on Saturday.
A Garud commando of the Indian Air Force was also killed and another Army jawan was injured in the gun battle.
Among the slain militants is Owaid, a son of Zakir Rehman Maki and nephew of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhavi, the mastermind of Mumbai blasts, said Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police, Shesh Paul Vaid.
Lakhvi is a top leader of the LeT and currently serves as its ‘supreme commander’ of operations in Jammu and Kashmir. He figures in the National Investigating Agency (NIA)’s most wanted list.
The police chief identified two more slain men as the LeT commanders Zargam and Mehmood and said, "All the terrorists neutralised today were Pakistanis".
In a tweet, he also said, "The encounter is now finished and was a success. Total of 6 LeT terrorists eliminated. Weapons and ammunition recovered".
The DGP termed the killing of the militants as "great success" for the security forces including the Army’s 13 Rashtriya Rifles, the J&K police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) and 45th Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
They had together launched a cordon-and-search-operation after "specific inputs" about presence of militants in Hajin’s Chandergeer area earlier during the day.
The fighting broke out soon after the security forces laid siege to the area, 36-km north of summer capital Srinagar, on learning about the presence of militants there, a police spokesman here said.
It is the same area where two IAF commandos Sergeant K Milind Kishor, 33, and Cpl (airman) Nilest Kumar Nayan, 31, and two militants including a Pakistani national were killed and two Army jawans injured in a similar clash on October 11.
Like them, the Garud commando who laid down his life during the fighting on Saturday was part of the counterinsurgency operation for "operational experiences and training." the officials said.
Defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said, "The name of the IAF martyr will be disclosed to media only after his family is informed about him being no more to follow the practice."
The police officials said that the LeT militants had tried to escape from the security cordon while firing their guns but the security forces foiled it and killed all the six of them one by one.
The clash took place on a day when the security forces in riot gear were enforcing a security lockdown in major parts of Srinagar to hold back protests and possible violence amid heightened tensions over the killing of a militant commander Mugees Ahmed Mir in a shootout in Gulab Bagh area on the peripheries of the capital city.
The incident which took place on Friday evening had also claimed the life of Sub-Inspector Imran Tak of the J&K police besides leaving a Special Police Officer injured.
Thousands of mourners participated in the funeral of the slain militant in Srinagar’s Parimpora area. Later angry crowds of the youth clashed with the security forces, the witnesses said. The security forces fired teargas canisters to quell stone-throwing mobs.
The authorities had earlier ordered closure of all educational institutions in the Srinagar district for the day. Train services were suspended and internet services were partially withdrawn.
Separatist leaders were either placed under house arrest or detained in police stations "as a precautionary measure."