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Top Hizb commander Altaf Kachroo among two militants killed in Anantnag

Srinagar, Aug 29:Two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militants, including senior commander and one of the longest surviving militants, Altaf Ahmad Dar aka Altaf Kachroo, were killed in a gunfight with the government forces in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Wednesday.

A protester was injured in the clashes near the site of the gunfight.

A police official identified the slain as Hizb divisional commander Altaf Ahmad Dar of Hawoora and Umar Rashid Wani of Khudwani in Kulgam district.

“Anantnag encounter update: Two militants killed. Arms and ammunition recovered. Search continues. Identity is being [email protected],” J&K police said on Twitter.

The gunfight broke out around 5 am in Muniward area near Khanabal area of Anantnag after forces launched a search operation.

An official said the militants hiding in a house opened fire on the forces, triggering a gunfight.

“In the ensuing gunfight that lasted for several hours, two militants were killed,” he said.

Authorities had suspended the Internet service in the area soon after the gunfight began.

Reports said that clashes erupted as the gunfight broke out with youth taking to streets to help the militants escape.

They said the forces fired tear gas and pellets to chase away the protesters who were pelting them with stones.

A youth, identified as Abid Rashid Bhat was hit by pellets in his face. He was hospitalised.

A local said that restrictions were imposed in Anantnag town in the wake of the gunfight.

Train service was also suspended on the Srinagar-Banihal route following the gunfight.

Scores of people were injured in Qaimoh area of Kulgam on Wednesday in intense clashes triggered by the killing of the two militants.

Reports said that scores of youth hit the streets and pelted the forces with stones in Qaimoh soon after the news of the killing of two Hizb militants spread in the area.

Locals said that the forces responded by fired tear gas and pellets, resulting in injuries to over 70 protesters.

Reports said that at Qaimoh hospital said they received around 73 youth injured among them five have pellet injuries in their eyes.

Clashes were going in the area when reports last came in.

Later in the day, a police spokesman said that Umar Rashid, one of the slain militants had escaped from a gunfight in Batmaloo Srinagar earlier this month.

“Altaf Ahmed Dar @ Kachroo @ Moin son of Late Gh. Mohd Dar resident of Hawoora, Mishipora District Kulgam was currently operating as a one of the most important commanders of HM,” the spokesman said in a statement.

He was considered as a long time surviving militant in the area.

“Umar Rashid Wani son of Abdul Rashid Wani resident of Khudwani Kulgam became active since last year. He was involved in many attacks on security establishments,” the spokesman said.

Rashid, the spokesman claimed, was also involved in killing of policemen at Anantnag.

“Further in Srinagar city Umar had carried an attack on CRPF and also escaped from the recent Batmaloo encounter site.”

Over fifty persons were injured in clashes with the government forces in south Kashmir parts following the killing of two militants

Reports said that massive clashes erupted in Khudwani after the news of Kachroo’s death reached there.

They said that the forces fired tear gas and pellets to chase away the protesters who were pelting them with stones.

A health official at sub-district hospital Qaimoh confirmed that 50 injured were brought to the hospital for treatment.

He said that six injured hit by pellets in the eye were referred to district hospital Anantnag for specialized treatment.

Among the six injured, one minor boy with pellets in his left eye was shifted to Srinagar hospital for further treatment.

Thousands of people attended the funeral prayers of both the slain at their respective villages at Hawoora and Khudwani and were later laid to rest.

Over a dozen militants appeared in the funeral of Kachroo at his native Mishipora village and offered a gun-salute.

Who was Altaf Kachroo?

A resident of Havora, Kulgam, Altaf Ahmed Dar alias Kachroo was arrested in August 2007 after a brief encounter with the government forces.

He was living a normal life after being released from the custody but “got active” in November 2012.

“He is called encounter breaker. I have lost count of the number of times he managed to flee from encounter sites, including once in Frisal,” reported Firstpost last year while quoting a police officer from Kulgam.

Dar, as per the report, was from a Jama’at-e-Islami family. One of the Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen’s top wanted militants in south Kashmir, he, the report said, was trapped many times by forces but he managed to flee.

After his release in 2014 following his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA), the report added, Altaf again joined militancy, operating between Kulgam and Anantnag. He was categorized as A++ militant.