Mohammad Ashraf Khan, the slain insurgent commander, was one of the Valley’s oldest remaining fighters. The execution of one of the most sought insurgent commanders “on the (Amarnath) yatra path,” according to the police, was a huge success.
Three more militants were killed in a battle in south Kashmir on Friday, including a key Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander. Mohammad Ashraf Khan, the murdered insurgent commander, was one of the Valley’s oldest remaining fighters.
Khan, also known as Ashraf Molvi, and two of his associates were slain in a gunfight that began Friday morning in the woods of Pahalgam, a popular tourist destination in south Kashmir.
The killing of one of the most sought insurgent commanders “on the (Amarnath) yatra path,” according to the police, was a huge success.
“Ashraf Molvi (one of the oldest survivng terrorists of HM terror outfit) along with two other terrorists killed. Successful operation on yatra route is a major success,” J-K Police, in a tweet while quoting Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar.
Khan, a resident of Kokernag in Anantnag, south Kashmir, was on the J-K police’s list of ten most wanted terrorist commanders announced last year. He joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 2013 and has spent the last nine years operating in various districts of south Kashmir. According to police sources, Khan was not only involved in multiple militant strikes but also played a key role in persuading local youth to join the militant ranks in south Kashmir. Khan, who police sources indicate was in his late 40s, was listed in police records as an A++ militant.
After receiving information regarding the presence of terrorists in the area, a joint team of J-K Police and Army roped off the forest area near Sirchand Top of Batkoot in south Kashmir’s Pahalgam on Friday morning. Pahalgam is a well-known tourist site on one of the two Amarnath yatra routes.
The militants in the area launched indiscriminate fire and attempted to break the security cordon as the joint team of soldiers was zeroing in on the target. The combined team of forces returned fire, resulting in a multi-hour gun battle.
The militants were killed in the gunfight that ended Friday afternoon. According to police sources, the militants killed were most likely members of the Hizbul Mujahideen extremist group. While one of the killed militants has been recognised as Khan, the identities of the others have still to be determined.
Khan is the second high-ranking Taliban leader to be killed in a shootout this year. Mohammad Yousf Dar alias Yousuf Kantroo, a key Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander, was killed in a gunfight in Baramulla, north Kashmir, on April 22. Before joining Lashkar-e-Toiba, Dar was a senior Hibzul mujahideen leader.
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