The ‘mastermind’ of the Amarnath yatra bus attack, Abu Ismail, was killed along with his associate Abu Kasim, also known as Chota Kasim, in a brief gunfight on the outskirts of Srinagar on Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Police added that at around 4:15 PM, a contact was established with the militants and it was a brief encounter. The police said that they have recovered two AK 47 rifles and two grenade launchers and some ammunition from the encounter site.
“Main accused of Amarnath Yatra attack Abu Ismail & his associate Abu Kasim eliminated today in Nowgam. Keep it up my @JmuKmrPolice boys!,” Director General of Police SP Vaid tweeted.
Vaid said that J&K Police was after him since Amarnath attack took place. He said that Ismail was also involved in several other attacks.
According to the security officials, Ismail, a Pakistani national who was the operation chief of Lashkar-e-Toiba, had led the attack on the Amarnath pilgrims in July along the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Anantnag that left eight pilgrims dead and 19 injured.
Speaking during a press briefing, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Range, Munir Khan said that Abu Ismail had 15 FIRs registered against his name in different criminal cases including murder and dacoity.
Khan said that there was no collateral damage during the encounter.
“I congratulate the team. It hardly took half an hour to complete the operation. He was one of our prime targets,” Muneer Khan, said. Abu Kasim, the associate of Abu Ismail is also said to be the resident of Pakistan.
Khan said that people’s prayers helped us to track down the LeT commander.
“When they killed the innocent Amarnath Yatris, no Kashmiri liked that and there was condemnation from all sections of the society,” Khan said. “The operation is a result of the people’s prayers,” he added.
BS Raju, GOC Victor Force, who was also part of the briefing said that the operation was a well-coordinated operation between JK police, CRPF and the Army.
“Operation was important because we are expecting vacuum in the top leadership of LeT,” BS Raju said.
Meanwhile, DG CRPF Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar termed the operation as a huge achievement.
The gunfight erupted when security forces launched an anti-militancy operation in the area following the input about his presence.
“As the operation was launched, the militants fired at the forces triggering a brief gunfight in which two militants were killed,” a police officer said.
Khan said that their prority is to neutralize the militant leadership in the valley as they lure youngsters to the militancy.
Abu Ismail is the fourth top militant killed in Kashmir since last year after Burhan Wani, Sabzar Bhat and Abu Dujana.