Hizbul Mujahideen senior commander Altaf Kachroo, along with other associate, is reported dead in early morning encounter with security forces at Muniward near Khanabal in Islamabad today. Altaf, a resident of Hawoora near Redwani village of neighbouring Kulgam district, was active for the past 15 years. His associated has been identified as Umar of Khudwani.
Altaf Ahmad Dar alias Kachroo had picked up gun in 2003. He was arrested but released after some months. After his release he rejoined militant ranks. He was divisional commander of the Hizb. His death is a serious setback to the militant movement in Kashmir.
The killing of Altaf has provoked massive protests in the area. Violent clashes are going on between the protestors and police and CRPF. Authorities have suspended train service between Banihal to Srinagar as the tension brewed up has fanned out to several areas. Internet service too has been suspended in south Kashmir.
Security forces laid siege of the village early in the morning following information about the presence. During house to house search security forces came under fire from hiding militants, resulting in encounter. The exchange of firing lasted for several hours. Latest reports said that encounter concluded with the killing of two Hizb militants including Altaf.
Reports said that thousands of people from different villages have converged at Hawoora to participate in furneral of the slain commander.
The violent clashes were reported from Khudwani where hundreds of youth have taken on security forces with stones and bricks. Reports said that over 60 protesters were injured in pellet and bullet firing by security forces. The clashes were going and entire Kulgam and Islamabad district were reeling under severe anger.