The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday said that the chief of militant group Al Badr was slain in a gun-battle with the government forces in northern Baramulla district.
The police said that Al Badr chief Gani Khawaja was killed after armed forces received a tip-off about the presence of militants in Tujjar of the Sopore police district.
The Senior Superintendent of Police in Sopore, Javaid Iqbal, said that they had input about the presence of rebels in the area. “The joint team of Jammu and Kashmir police along with Indian army launched a cordon and search operation in the area on the evening. As the police reached to the suspected hideout, the rebel fired at them and an encounter broke out,” Iqbal said.
Gani, was a resident of Karlgund village in neighbouring Kupwara district, about 100 km from summer capital Srinagar.
Inspector-General of Police for Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, said: “We have killed Al-Badr chief Gani Khawaja in the ensuing encounter at Tujjar. His killing is a big success for us.” Khawaja was one of the most wanted militant commanders in the Kashmir region.
The police said they recovered incriminating materials including arms and ammunition from the site of the gunfight.
Earlier reports had said that 2-3 militants were trapped in Tujjar, but Kumar said the operation is over and searches are being conducted in the area.
Al-Badr is an Islamic insurgent group operating in Kashmir and was formed in June 1998. Prior to the group’s separation from Hizbul Mujahideen, they participated in the fighting in Afghanistan in 1990 as part of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-l-Islami alongside other anti-Soviet Afghan mujahideen.
A report on the internet mentions Gani Khawaja as a big fish in the Handwara-Sopore belt, allegedly responsible for multiple attacks on Indian government forces.