Indian security forces claim to have shot dead a top Kashmiri militant who was accused of killing six police officers during a seven-hour gunbattle in the disputed Kashmir region on Saturday.
Bashir Ahmad, alias Bashir Lashkari, was on India’s most-wanted list and had a one million rupee (about $15,500)-bounty on his head. Ahmad killed six police officers in an ambush in the southern Anantnag district last month, police and army officials said.
Another militant, who police named as Azad Malik, was also killed during Saturday’s joint army and police operation in Dailigam village, part of Anantnag.
Two civilians were also killed in the clash and 17 others, who had been trapped inside a house with the militants, were rescued, a police spokesman said. Lieutenant Colonel Rajesh Kalia, an army spokesman based in Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar, said the two dead militants belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group.
In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India militants and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants. Anti-India sentiment runs deep among the region’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the militant’s cause against Indian rule despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight the armed rebellion.