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A file photo of BSF personnel. Photo: AFP
A file photo of BSF personnel. Photo: AFP

Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Abu Qasim killed by army, J&K police

Qasim, the most wanted terrorist in Kashmir, masterminded all the major attacks on security personnel in Kashmir in the past few years

In a major success for security forces in Kashmir, Abu Qasim, the operations commander of terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, was killed in a joint operation by the army and the special operations group of the state police.

Qasim, described as the most wanted terrorist in Kashmir by security officials, was the mastermind behind all major attacks on security personnel in Kashmir in the past few years.

Among the most important of these were the attacks on a Border Security Force (BSF) convoy in Udhampur in August and on an army convoy in Hyderpora on the outskirts of Srinagar in 2013. While two BSF personnel were killed in the Udhampur incident, nine army jawans died in the Hyderpora case, described as one of the worst attacks on security forces in Kashmir Valley in recent years.

Qasim was also responsible for the killing of police officer Mohammed Altaf Ahmed earlier this month. Altaf, also known as Altaf Laptop, was one of the best counterterrorism operatives in the Valley and was responsible for busting several terrorist modules. In fact, Altaf was killed when he was going for an operation following a tip-off that Abu Qasim was holed up in the Bandipora area.

Qasim, a resident of Bahawalpur in Pakistan, carried a joint reward of 20 lakh announced by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the state police. The NIA is investigating the Udhampur attack on the BSF convoy, in which another Pakistani terrorist, Mohammed Naveed, was caught.

“Abu Qasim was the most dangerous terrorist operating in the Valley and had become a major nuisance for the security forces. Army, state police and the paramilitary forces were jointly working on this plan to eliminate Qasim and his killing will be a huge setback to subversive activities in the Valley. We have concrete information that Qasim was close to Hafiz Sayeed, chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and founder of Lashkar, and had been taking instructions from him," an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

The operation against Qasim began around 2am on Wednesday following specific intelligence inputs that he was hiding in a house in Khandipura village in Kulgam area along with another Lashkar militant.

K. Rajendra Kumar, director general of the Jammu and Kashmir police, said, “this is a great achievement for the security forces since Qasim was trying to expand the terror network in South Kashmir also and was active in Shopian and Kulgam areas. He had already set up a network in north Kashmir and was now concentrating on others parts of the Valley, particularly south Kashmir."

S.J.M. Gillani, inspector general of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, said Qasim, whose real name is Abdul Rehman, was involved in all major Lashkar attacks in Kashmir over the past three years.

“Qasim’s killing will dent the operational capabilities of Lashkar in Kashmir and also the coordination between various militant outfits in the Valley. Qasim was highly mobile and responsible for motivating, recruiting and training militants during the last five years," Gillani said.

PTI contributed to this story.

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