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J&K: Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo killed in Awantipora encounter

J&K: Hizbul commander Riyaz Naikoo killed in Awantipora encounter

Riyaz Naikoo, operational commander of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen, and another militant were killed during an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir's Awantipora, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar told The Indian Express on Wednesday. Naikoo, alias Mohammad Bin Qasim, was trapped in Beighpora village in Pulwama before being killed.

Earlier in the day, mobile internet services were suspended in Kashmir as a precautionary measure, officials said. Soon after the incident, stone pelting broke out in the area following which cellular services were also shut.

A cordon and search operation had begun last night after security forces were tipped off about the presence of militants in Beigpora area.

Naikoo, one of Kashmir's most wanted militant, had taken over the Hizbul leadership in the Valley from Mohammad Yasin Itoo alias Mehmood Ghaznawi after he was killed in August 2017 in a gunfight in Shopian's Awneera. Before Ghaznawi, Burhan Wani, the poster boy of militancy in the Valley, was killed in July 2016.

A mathematics teacher in a private school, Naikoo joined militant ranks in 2012. Naikoo carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh and police were looking for him for eight years.

Meanwhile, two militants were killed in a separate encounter in Sharshali Khrew area in Awantipora, a defence spokesperson said. Kashmir Zone Police said the encounter began at 1 am and is still ongoing.

There has been an increase in anti-militancy operations in valley since last month. On Sunday, five security personnel including two top army officers and a J-K Police officer were killed in an encounter with militants in Handwara. And three CRPF men were killed after militants attacked a joint checkpoint in Handwara on Monday evening.

J-K Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh on Tuesday had said that anti-militancy operations will be intensified further in coming time.

"You must have seen that security arrangements are already strengthen and anti-militancy operations are going on and in coming time they [operation] will be further intensified," the DGP said while speaking to media during wreath laying ceremony of three CRPF men.

(Inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)

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