What could be termed as a major success for the security forces, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Bashir Lashkari, active in the Kashmir valley was gunned down along with an associate on Saturday following a fierce two-hours long gun-battle in Anantnag district.
Earlier a 44-year-old woman resident Tahira was critically injured after she was caught in the crossfire between the militants and the security forces.
Security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in Brenti-Batpora in Anantnag at 3:00 am today after they received information about the presence of the militants, a police official said. "As forces were trying to open the house, the militants fired and army retaliated". Two civilians later succumbed to their injuries.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police had announced a bounty of Rs 10 lakh for Lashkari after he masterminded an attack that killed six policemen in Achabal, including Station House Officer (SHO) Feroz Ahmed Dar, on June 16 this year. The house in Anantnag district where four LeT militants were holed up was blasted using explosives.
Security forces rescued about 17 civilians who were trapped with militants inside a residential complex.
The IGP said 17 civilians who had been trapped inside the house where the militants had been hiding were brought out to safety.
The IGP said that though Lashkari has been killed, the security forces can not lower their guard as "The militants would be on the lookout for soft targets". Two to three militants are believed hiding in the area.
Spot media reports of the 22 deaths, corroborated by rights activists in Kashmir, say that the deaths were caused either by alleged firing by forces to quell protests or in some cases, as authorities said, by a stray bullet in cross-firing between militants and security forces.
"There is a civilian family inside the house.It is a hostage situation and our first priority is the their safety", the sources added.
Hundreds of people marched towards Sopshali village in Kokernag area in Anantnag district, where from slain LeT commander Bashir Lashkari hailed, to attend his funeral prayers.