January 2017 News

26-11 Attack Mastermind's Nephew Killed During Gunfight In Kashmir

19 January 2017
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan and Shweta Desai

Srinagar: The biting cold and heavy snowfall in the Valley from the last fortnight has flushed out militants from their hiding grounds in the jungle to look for some warmth in the urban local neighbourhoods. With militant activities on a downhill, security forces have revived counter-insurgency operations striking to eliminate militant leaders on their winter hibernation. In one such operation on Thursday dawn, security forces dealt a major blow to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) when they killed one of its top commanders, Abu Musaib ,in Bandipora, north Kashmir. He is the seventh militant to be killed in January so far. 'It is a big success for the security forces. Musaib was the nephew of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. He was involved in many terror attacks. He was instrumental in recruiting people for militancy,' Dr SP Vaid, Director-General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, told DNA. The 23-year-old divisional commander had recently moved his base from the dense forests surrounding Bandipora to the house of an overground worker in Para Mohallah in Hajin. Acting on a specific intelligence input that Musaib was hiding in the residential neighbourhood, a joint team of the Army's RR, J&K police and the CRPF launched an operation on early Thursday morning. 'The team reached around 4.30 am and carried a search-and-cordon operation. It was snowing and we couldn't find him immediately,' a senior CRPF official said. Security forces later announced from mosques, calling on all civilians to come out. Taking a cue from last year, when local crowds would pelt stones and create a distraction, allowing militants to flee, security forces cordoned off the alleys leading to Para Mohalla. Musaib came out from his hiding place and stood in the crowd. Thinking he would be able to escape, he ran through a side alley. He tried to open a bullet-proof Rakshak vehicle and fired at the forces. He was later gunned down. Intelligence officials said that Musaib was a top militant and had strengthened militancy in north Kashmir by recruiting the youth, launching attacks on security forces and snatching their weapons. 'He has given us the slip at least thrice in the past when he broke the cordon and escaped to safety. He was active in Ganderbal and Bandipora districts motivating and recruiting youth for LeT,' said an intelligence officer. Musaib is the second close relative of the LeT commander-in-chief Lakhvi to be killed in the Valley in the last 27 years. In 2008, Lakhvi's son Abdul Qasim was killed in an encounter, also in Bandipora. His death was confirmed by David Coleman Headley during his examination in the special court in Mumbai. Lakhvi, who was the commander-in-chief of LeT , was jailed and later bailed out in Pakistan during the trial of 26-11 Mumbai terror attack. Musaib was the son of Lakhvi's brother and has been active in Kashmir since August 2015.