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Police kill Hizb leader

Srinagar, April 2: Jammu and Kashmir police today claimed to have gunned down the chief commander, operations, of the Hizb-ul Mujahideen group, Saiful Islam, in an encounter in central Budgam district this evening.

Kashmir range chief inspector general of police K. Rajendra described the killing of Islam as a major success. There was no word from the militant outfit.

Rajendra said, acting on specific information, the paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) and the state police shot dead Ghulam Hassan Khan alias Saiful Islam.

“We recovered Rs 93 lakh, one satellite phone, one AK-47 rifle and one pistol from the area during the raid,” the police chief said.

Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who also holds the important home portfolio, had only few days back asked the state police and the security forces to “crush militancy with an iron hand”.

In a recent meeting, Mufti told the police to “rise to the occasion and face the challenge of militancy with determination and fortitude”.

“My entire government is behind the police in dealing with the situation… Jammu and Kashmir police, being son of the soil, is better placed to deal with the situation and rid the state of the unf- ortunate gun culture,” the chief minister had reportedly said.

Islam had replaced Abdul Majid Dar, the slain operational chief of the militant group, in 2001 after the latter was expelled from the outfit foll-owing serious differences with the outfit’s supreme commander, Syed Salahuddin.

In July 2000, Dar had announced a unilateral ceasefire that was later withdrawn by Salahuddin. Dar was shot dead on March 23 by gunmen at Sopore in northern Barramullah district.

At Shopian, in the south Kashmir Pulwama district, at least 18 persons, including an army soldier were wounded in a powerful grenade explosion this afternoon. The injured, two in a serious condition, were immediately shifted to hospital.

Police said one woman died while two others, including a BSF soldier, were wounded in another fierce gun battle at Chewdara in Budgam this morning.

Security forces had cord-oned off Chewdara to conduct searches.

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