PULWAMA — Top security officials on Sunday said that five militants were killed in twin encounters in the past 12 hours — four in Naira village of Pulwama district and one in Charar-e-Shareef area of Budgam district.

They said among the four slain in Naira Pulwama was the wanted Jaish-e-Muhammad outfit’s Kashmir chief, Zahid Manzoor Wani.

Addressing a joint press conference at Balapur, Shopian, the General officer Commanding (GoC) of South Kashmir based Victor Force Lieutenant General Prashant Srivastava said that acting on a specific lead, joint teams of Police, Army and CRPF laid a siege in Naira village of Pulwama on Saturday evening.

“Zahid Manzoor was the mastermind of IED attacks in south Kashmir since 2017”

“In the initial assault, three militants were killed and later the presence of another militant was established and he was also killed and identified as Zahid Manzoor Wani, an IED expert and the JeM’s south Kashmir chief,” the GoC Victor Force said.

He said Zahid was the mastermind of IED attacks carried out in south Kashmir since 2017 and the main recruiter of local boys into the militancy fold. “His killing is a big success for the forces,” he said.

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House owner’s son a hybrid militant: IGP Kashmir

Speaking on the occasion, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar said that during the operation, the house owner’s son Inayat Ahmed, was asked to surrender but he along with militants opened fire at the security forces and got killed. “He was a hybrid militant,” the IGP said.

He said that the house owner at Naira, Pulwama, in whose house the encounter took place, will be booked under UAPA.

He said the killing of JeM commander Zahid Manzoor Wani, who was the wanted commander of JeM, was killed along with his three associates while another militant of LeT was killed in an encounter at Charar-e-Shareef in Budgam district.

Zahid Manzoor was the chief of JeM for the entire Kashmir

The IGP said that Zahid was in fact the chief of JeM for the entire Kashmir. “His brother was also a militant and is in jail,” the IGP said.

The IGP said that since January 1, 11 encounters took place in which 21 militants including eight foreigners were killed.

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“Foreigners who were hiding in forests are coming and settling down in civilian areas. With the help of human and technical inputs, we are zeroing in on them and killing them in clean operations,” he said, adding that in both the operations, there were no casualties to security forces.

He said all efforts are in place to bring down local militant recruitment and a strategy is being followed to bring the number of active militants to less than 100 this year.

Locals contend police claims, saying Inayat Ahmad was a civilian

Meanwhile, the local people in Naira said that Inayat Ahmad, the house owner’s son, was a civilian and not a militant.

While contesting the police claim that Inayat was a ‘hybrid militant’, a relative of the slain said that they now want the dead body of the slain.

“The police should give us the dead body of Inayat, so that we can hold his burial rites,” he said.

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