Srinagar: In a major success for security forces, top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Qasim, accused of masterminding the Udhampur attack, was killed in an overnight encounter in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir.
30-year-old Qasim, whose real name is Abdur Rehman, was one of the most wanted terrorists in the state.
"It is a major success as Qasim was directly or indirectly involved in all major LeT attacks in Kashmir over the past three years," SJM Gillani, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir told reporters today, adding that his death would dent the operational capabilities of the LeT and hurt coordination between various terrorist groups.
Last night, a joint team of the Army, police and paramilitary forces launched an operation in Khandipora village of Kulgam following a tip-off about Qasim's presence in the area.
"We laid a cordon yesterday and he was shot and killed when he tried to break through," Mr Gillani said.
Qasim, a native of Bahawalpur in Pakistan, was accused of involvement in some of the major attacks on security forces in the state in the last couple of years. He planned the attack on a Border Security Force convoy in Udhampur on August 5, according to the National Investigation Agency. Two BSF personnel were killed in that attack. While one of the terrorists, Mohammed Noman, was killed in retaliatory fire, another, Mohammad Naveed, was later captured by villagers.
In June 2013, he attacked an Army convoy in Hyderpora on the outskirts of Srinagar, killing nine soldiers and injuring 11 others.
He was also said to be involved in the killing of Altaf Ahmad, one of the best counter-terrorism police officers in Jammu and Kashmir, earlier this month in a gunbattle in Bandipore district. Police say Mr Ahmad, along with two colleagues, was on a covert mission in the district to track down Qasim.
Qasim was carrying a reward of Rs 20 lakh on his head.
After the Hyderpora attack, the police had announced a Rs 10 lakh bounty. Later, the National Investigation Agency, which is investigating the Udhampur attack, announced Rs 10 lakh for any information leading to Qasim's arrest or killing.