Hizbul Mujahideen today named Mohammad bin Qasim as its "field operational commander" in Kashmir in place of Yaseen Yattoo who was killed yesterday in a fierce gunbattle with security forces in Shopian district. Qasim was made the new commander of Hizb at a meeting of the outfit's command council chaired by Syed Salahuddin in Muzaffarabad (in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir), a spokesman of the outfit said in a statement.
Salahuddin said the high number of killings of militants in encounters were because of "traitors" and "Indian agents".
Yattoo, alias 'Gaznavi', and his two associates were killed yesterday in an encounter that began on Saturday night in Awnira village of Shopian district in south Kashmir.
In the encounter, two armymen were also killed and three others, including a Major, were injured.
Yattoo, who hailed from Budgam district of central Kashmir, had a long association with Hizbul Mujahideen and was responsible for keeping alive the prolonged unrest of 2016 following the killing of group's commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.
He had also played key role in recruiting several young men into the outfit, according to the police.
Yattoo had joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 1996 but had surrendered in 2007 and was later released on parole in 2014.
Subsequently, he had joined the militant group again and was its self-styled chief operations commander.
Along with him, the security forces killed Umar Majeed, who hailed from Shopian, and Irfan, a tech-savvy militant involved in online propaganda for the militant outfit.