3 LeT commanders shot dead
14 January 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: Three commanders of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were gunned down by Army and police in two separate encounters in Poonch and Doda districts today while a contractor was arrested for giving shelter to one of the commander. Two district commanders of LeT were killed in a fierce day long gun-battle at Sheen Dara Top in Surankote tehsil in Poonch district this evening, official sources said. They said troops of 39 Rashtriya Rifles, 153 Territorial Army battalion and, police and Special Operations Group (SOG) launched a joint search operation at Sheen Dara Top after developing a specific information that four top militants of the LeT outfit, all Â‘commandersÂ’ were holding a strategy session. Hide-out of the militants was identified this afternoon and they were asked to surrender. However, this led to a heavy exchange of firing between the two sides which continued till this evening. Two LeT Â‘commandersÂ’ were killed in the operation while two others managed to escape. Police and SOG parties in the operation were supervised by SSP Poonch S D Singh. Slain militants have been identified as Abu Billal and Abu Saquib, both Â‘district commandersÂ’ of LeT, hailing from Pakistan. Recoveries made from their possession included one AK-47 rifle, one AK-56 rifle, three magazines, one radio set, 20 rounds and one diary. Searches in the area continued till late tonight to trace two militants, who escaped in the gun-battle. Another Â‘district commanderÂ’ of LeT Abu Maaz, also a Pakistani was killed in a night long operation by police and security forces at Bhagwan Mohalla near Bus Stand in Kishtwar town of Doda district, SSP Doda Prithvi Raj Manhas said. He said Abu Maaz had come for collecting money from businessmen, contractors and other influential persons in Kishtwar town. He had been putting up in the house of Abdul Lateef, a contractor, at Bhagwan Mohalla. On a tip off, police cordoned off LateefÂ’s house and asked Abu Maaz to surrender. However, he lobbed a grenade on the police party, which exploded with a bang but failed to cause any casualties. Security forces and police exercised restraint to avert civilian casualties in the house. The militant, however, continued firing with a Chinese pistol. In a pre-dawn swoop, the cops and security personnel raided the house and gunned down the militant. Abdul Lateef was taken into custody for questioning for giving shelter to the militant. One Chinese pistol was recovered from him. Police said one hand grenade is also reported to have exploded in the hands of Abu Maaz as his hand had been blown up when his body was recovered. Maaz was involved in the killing of two cops at Dool, Kishtwar last summer. Besides, he was also involved in a series of other militant activities in Kishtwar tehsil. Sources said people refused to bury the body of Maaz in Dool. The body was brought back to Kishtwar this evening where it was buried. Police party in the operation was led by SP Kishtwar Pankaj Magoo and SDPO Kishtwar Liaquat Ali. Meanwhile, security forces today arrested two suspects from village Nadkai in Banihal tehsil. They have been identified as Shakeel Ahmed Naik S-o Ghulam Rasool Naik and Ayaz Ahmed S-o Ghulam Rasool, both resident of Hanjoos. They have been handed over to Banihal police station.