Lashkar’s top leaders killed in Hajin, the major operation in recent days

SRINAGAR: Seven persons including six militants and an IAF personnel were killed in one of the biggest operations in Hajin, the erstwhile capital of Ikhwan, an anti-insurgency outfit. Among the slain is Owaid, the nephew of a top Pakistani Lashkar leader Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, according to some media houses.

 “The operation is over, we have recovered six AK 47 rifles,” a senior police officer privy of the developments said. “But the debris needs to be seen properly.”

Another senior officer said that the half-a-dozen killings are a “severe blow” to the Lashkar-e-Toiba in its north Kashmir operations. Among the dead was abu Zargam, the outfit’s divisional commander in north Kashmir.

“They were in a meeting and we had the prior information on basis of which the siege was laid in which all possible exists were sealed,” the officer said. Apart from SOG Bandipore, he said, 13-Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF also participated.

The IAF man, who was part of the force’s Garud Commando force, was part of the training with the army. This recently set up force of the IAF is being trained by the army in ground combat and was killed during the operation. He was the second such trainee to get killed in the counter insurgency operation almost in the same belt.

A soldier from RR is injured. He has received a bullet in his thigh and is out of danger. Ashiq Bhat, a civilian was injured and has received “a probable stray bullet” in his toe. The injured are in the hospital.

Srinagar based defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia was quoted saying that the exchange of fire started within minutes after the siege was effectively tightened.

Police sources said they initially were unaware about the actual identities of the slain but now they are sure most of them are foreigners. The slain were identified as abu Zargam, Mehmood Bhai, abu Osama, abu Kital and Choutou. One officer said one of the six is still not identified.

“Mehmood is the same person who barged into the residence of a soldier and killed him,” the officer said. “That incident also happened in the Hajin belt.”

After the encounter there were reports of protests in teh area. The house in which the militants were trapped has suffered extensive damage in the operation.

A Delhi newspaper reported that one of the six slain is Owaid, the nephew of Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, the mastermind of Mumbai attacks. He is son of Abdul Rehman Makki. A senior police officer late in the night said the particular militants who is a kin of high profile Lashkar leader is abu Osama.

(Pictures used in the story are related to an earlier encounter in Hajin)

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