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Former journalist among two militants slain in Rainawari gunfight

Two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed in an encounter with armed forces in the Rainawari area of Srinagar city on Wednesday, police said.

An encounter broke out between militants and forces in the Rainawari area of Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital around midnight following a cordon and search operation in the old city, a police official said.

He said two militants were killed in the brief gun battle.

Inspector-General of Police Kashmir zone Vijay Kumar said one of the slain militants was carrying a ‘press card’.

“One of the slain militants of LeT was carrying an Identity Card (ID) of media. It indicates a clear case of misuse of media,” Kumar tweeted.

According to the card, Rayees Ahmad Bhat, the slain ultra, was editor in chief of Valley Media Service, an unknown news gathering agency.

The slain militants have been identified by police as residents of the Bijbehara area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

A police officer identified the duo as Rayees Ahmad Bhat, son of Abdul Hameed Bhat of Shahbad Veeri Bijbhera, and Hilal Ahmad Rah alias Shaboo son of Safeer Ahmad Rah of Kuthipora Waghama Bijbehara.

A top police officer said that Rayees had gone missing on 8th August last year while Rah went missing on 18th October the same year. Both were affiliated with Lashkar-i-Taiba and were category-C militants.

“Before joining militant ranks, Rayees was running an online news portal VNS,” the officer said.

Earlier, officials said that the operation began after a joint team of armed forces received specific input about the presence of militants in Rainawari, and subsequently laid a cordon at the site. The hiding militants, the official said, opened fire leading to an operation.

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