Two Jaish-e-Mohammad militants including a top commander, responsible for a car blast last month that claimed the lives of two security personnel, were killed in a joint operation Saturday in south Kashmir.
Police have termed the killing of the Jaish commander, identified as Munna Lahori, a major success, saying he was responsible for car bombs triggered at Ramban on March 30 and Pulwama in June.
While police and security forces had halted anti-militancy operations in south Kashmir in wake of the Amarnath yatra, Saturday’s operation was the first in the region in the past three weeks.
“Top most Jaish commander of south Kashmir Munna Lahori from Pakistan killed this morning along with his local associate after a night-long operation,” said the Jammu and Kashmir Police. “The slain Jaish commander was responsible for car blast attack on security force convoy at Banihal and fatal car blast on Army vehicle at Arihal Pulwama”.
On March 30, militants made a failed attempt to ram an explosives-laden car into a paramilitary convoy at Ramban on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. While the militant managed to ram the car into the convoy, the IED didn’t explode. The militant was later arrested. In June, militants detonated a car bomb at Arihal in Pulwama killing two soldiers and injuring close a dozen civilians.
Lahori, police sources said, was an expert in making Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and was the brain behind the recent attacks. “This terrorist from Pakistan was known for making IEDs and responsible for series of civilian killings,” police said. “JeM was also using him for recruitment”.
Late Friday, a joint team of police, Army and paramilitary forces cordoned off the Bonabazar neighbourhood of Shopian after specific inputs about the presence of militants in the area. As the joint team of forces zeroed in on the target house, the holed up militant opened fire resulting in the death of two militants – Lahori and a local Jaish militant Zeenat-ul-Islam.
Police sources said Lahori was not on the security radar for a long time and that he had managed to enter the Valley early this year or late last year.
According to police, his killing is a huge setback to Jaish and its plans to carry out attacks. “In recent months, militants had shifted their focus towards IED attacks and he was an expert in making the IEDs from locally available materials,” said a police officer. “That made him a valuable asset for the militants and a headache for the security agencies”.