Tuesday, July 20, 2010

'Most wanted' militant killed in Kashmir: army

SRINAGAR: One of Kashmir's "most wanted" militants has been killed during a fierce gunbattle, dealing a blow to the insurgency in the volatile Himalayan region, the military said Wednesday.

A Pakistani identified as Nouman, the commander of the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahedin rebel group in Indian Kashmir, was killed in an overnight firefight with soldiers, army spokesman J.S. Brar told AFP.

Harkat-ul-Mujahedin is one of a number of groups fighting against New Delhi's rule in Muslim-majority Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan. The most powerful group is thought to be Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Brar claimed Nouman was "Kashmir valley's top most militant" wanted for a number of attacks, including master-minding a nearly 24-hour siege at a hotel in the centre of Indian Kashmir's main city Srinigar in January.

"His death is a big jolt to insurgency in Kashmir," he said.

The gunbattle took place in Sopore town, about 50 kilometers (31 miles), north of Srinagar, and also left an unidentified accomplice to Nouman and an Indian soldier dead.

More than 47,000 people have died in Kashmir since anti-India militants launched an insurgency in the scenic region in 1989.

The violence has declined sharply since India and Pakistan started a slow-moving peace process in 2004. Both nuclear-armed rivals hold the region in part but claim it in entirety.

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