Abu Ismail, the operational commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba in the Kashmir Valley and the man behind the Amarnath Yatra attack two months ago, was killed on Thursday in an encounter by security forces at Aribagh Nowgam on the outskirts of Srinagar. Another militant, identified as Chhota Qasim, was also killed in the encounter, said officials.
Ismail, a 23-year-old Pakistani national, is the fourth top commander to be killed in South Kashmir since security forces launched Operation All Out in the Valley against militant leaders early this year. Qasim was also a Pakistani national, said officials. J&K DGP S P Vaid described the killing of Ismail as a “huge success” for security forces.
“Ismail was the main motivator behind luring young boys to militancy. He was involved in the Amarnath Yatra bus attack, the attack on forces near Delhi Public School and many other such attacks. The operation was based on specific information, and Ismail and his associate were killed inside a house in which they were hiding,’’ Vaid told The Indian Express.
Major General B S Raju, General Officer Commanding, Victor Force, which is responsible for security in South Kashmir, said that the killing of Ismail would lead to a “serious leadership crisis in the Lashkar”. Other security officials described Thursday’s encounter as a “game-changer in South Kashmir and a morale-booster for security forces”.
This is a huge achievement. The terrorist was responsible for the attack on Amarnath Yatra: DG CRPF Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar on Abu Ismail pic.twitter.com/VhaOH1W1HD
— ANI (@ANI) September 14, 2017
The other militant leaders killed by security forces under Operation All Out are Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, Yasin Yattoo and Abu Dujana. Ismail was active in South Kashmir and the Lashkar’s operational commander this summer after its leader Dujana joined the newly formed Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind led by Zakir Musa who parted ways with Hizbul Mujahideen. Dujana was killed last month in an encounter at Hakripora village in Pulwama.
Read | Who is Abu Ismail? Click here
Officials said Ismail had entered the Valley four-five years ago and was close to two former Lashkar operational commanders, Abu Qasim and Dujana. Like his predecessors, Ismail also made South Kashmir his base and developed a network of overground workers. Officials said he was mostly active in Kulgam and Anantnag, and appeared on the radar of security forces after the attack on a bus carrying Amarnath Yatra pilgrims at Khanbal on July 10, killing eight persons.
Militant leadership has to be eliminated because they also misguide our children and lure them into this: Muneer Khan, IGP Kashmir pic.twitter.com/4v0OlLswUU
— ANI (@ANI) September 14, 2017
Officials said Ismail shifted his base from Anantnag after the attack and kept moving between villages in Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama. Sources said that information about his latest location was generated from South Kashmir following which a team of J&K Police and the Army cordoned off the area and launched the encounter. Police claimed to have recovered two AK 47 rifles from the site. Later, mobile internet was suspended in Srinagar district as a precautionary step.