Srinagar: In a major success, security forces on Thursday shot dead top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander and mastermind of the Udhampur terror attack, Abu Qasim, who was behind several terror strikes in the Kashmir Valley in the past three years.

The operation began at 2am after intelligence reports that 28-year-old Qasim, a resident of Bhawalpur in Pakistan, was holed up in a house at Khandipura village in Kulgam, along with an accomplice, official sources said. The village is located 80km from Srinagar.

A joint team of Army, police and para-military forces was rushed in and the village was cordoned off. Qasim was killed when he and his accomplices tried to break cordon laid by security forces. “We have neutralized a top Lashkar commander Abu Qasim during an operation in Khandaypora in Kulgam district in the wee hours today. It is a major success as Qasim was directly or indirectly involved in all major LeT attacks in Kashmir over the past three years," Inspector General of Police Kashmir S.J.M. Gillani told reporters.

Giving details of the encounter, he said, “One militant (Qasim) was killed while others managed to get back inside". The operation was still in progress. Qasim was one of the top most wanted militants in the state for whom the state police had announced a reward of 10 lakh. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating the Udhampur case, had also announced a similar reward for information leading to his arrest or killing.

Gillani said Qasim, whose real name is Abdul Rehman, was the mastermind of the Udhampur attack on a Border Security Force (BSF) convoy on 5 August this year. Qasim was also involved in the killing of sub inspector Mohammad Altaf Dar at Bandipora on 7 October 2015. The IGP said Qasim’s killing will dent the operational capabilities of Lashkar in Kashmir and also the coordination between various militant outfits in the valley.

Gillani said Qasim was also involved in the attack on army convoy at Hyderpora in the city in 2013 that left eight soldiers dead. The militant commander was also involved in killing of noted cardiologist Sheikh Jalal in 2013 at Pampore in Pulwama district.

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