Zakir Rasheed Bhat alias Zakir Musa, Kashmir’s most-wanted rebel and chief of terror outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH), an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, is believed to have been killed today evening in Tral area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Musa was on top of the most-wanted list for quite some time now and had been eluding the security forces for more than six years. He had joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in July 2013, leaving his engineering degree at a Punjab college midway.
Son of an engineer working with the Jammu and Kashmir Government, Musa defected from Hizb months after outfit’s commander Burhan Wani’s was killed. He formed a separate group and after some time, he announced his affiliation to Al-Qaeda and named his outfit AGH. Ever since, he was active mostly in Tral area and his outfit had four to six members.
His “killing” is being hailed as the biggest victory for the forces since Wani’s killing. While the security agencies are yet to make an official statement, official sources, while talking to The Tribune, confirmed the killing.
Meanwhile, authorities have put curbs on the movement of people across south Kashmir, snapped internet services in most parts of the Valley and ordered the closure of educational institutions on Friday.
The gunfight took place in Dadsara area of Tral where forces launched a cordon and search operation late in the evening following inputs about the presence of rebel. “Told to surrender, the rebels opened fire, which was retaliated and in the ensuing battle, the rebel commander was killed,” a police official said on anonymity. He did not comment on whether the bodies had been retrieved.
Intense clashes erupted around the site of the gunfight and a few other places in South Kashmir after the encounter.