Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo killed by security forces in J&K's Pulwama, say reports; mobile internet suspended in region
Riyaz Naikoo, a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander who had been on the run for eight years, has reportedly been killed by security forces
Riyaz Naikoo, a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander who had been on the run for eight years, has reportedly been killed by security forces in a village in Kashmir's Pulwama district, news agency ANI reported.
The report, however, is yet to be confirmed by Jammu and Kashmir Police and the security forces.
Authorities in the Valley have snapped mobile internet services across the region, News18 reported. Strict restrictions have been imposed on the movement of people as preemptive measures to ward off any law and order problems.
A police spokesperson had earlier confirmed that a top terrorist commander along with an accomplice was trapped in an encounter, but had refused to reveal his identity.
Later in the day, officials disclosed that the man in their sights was Naikoo, the operational commander of the banned terrorist outfit, who carried a bounty of Rs 12 lakh.
Declining to give details, officials had only said they had launched a plan to nab Naikoo after establishing his presence in the village and wanted to ensure he did not escape this time. They said details would be shared after the encounter was over.
Hours later, ANI confirned that the militant commander has been killed.
Naikoo (32) -- who was number two to Burhan Wani, the poster boy of militancy in the Valley -- became the de facto chief of the terror group after Wani was killed in July 2016.
Since then, Naikoo managed to escape the police dragnet thrice in Shopian in south Kashmir.
Before joining militancy, Naikoo, who comes from Awantipora in Pulwama district, used to give private tuitions to school children. He had played a crucial role in holding the terror group’s hold in Kashmir, after Zakir Musa split the outfit in 2017.
He joined militancy in 2012 and has since been involved in a number of attacks and militancy related activities in south Kashmir, according to police. He was one of the last few popular faces of militancy in Kashmir. He had worked tremendously on increasing the visibility and popularity of the banned terror organisation. A popular face on social media, Naikoo was a tech-savvy person and had used platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook to galvanise support for the new age militancy in the Valley.
Meanwhile, in Sharshali village, two militants who are yet to be identified were gunned down in an encounter with security forces.
Acting on a tip-off about the presence of militants in the village, security forces launched a cordon and search operation. It turned into an encounter after militants opened fire towards security forces' positions, officials said. In the retaliatory firing, two militants were killed, they said.
With inputs from PTI
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