Yasin Yatoo alias Mehmood Ghaznavi, Hizbul Mujahideen’s operational commander for Kashmir and one of the longest serving militants in the Valley, was killed in an encounter with security forces in Shopian of Jammu and Kashmir. Yatoo was among three militants that were neutralized by the security forces in a 16-hour gunfight that began in Awneera in Shopian on Saturday.
Security forces have confirmed that the body that has been recovered was that of Yasin Yatoo, news agency ANI reported today. He was identified by his family members who were brought to the scene of the encounter by police from their residence in Budgam.
Following a tip-off to the local police, a cordon was laid in Awnira village of Shopian last night by the Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, Army and the CRPF. Militants fired at the approaching security personnel, wounding five Army personnel, two of whom later died. This prompted the security forces to wait till dawn while keeping a tight cordon around the area before launching a major strike.
Intermittent firing continued the whole night, and the operation began in full swing in the morning. All three terrorists holed up were killed. They were identified as Irfan, a tech-savvy militant involved in online propaganda for the militant outfit, and Umar, who was personal security man of Ghaznavi.
Itoo, from Budgam district of central Kashmir, had a long association with Hizbul Mujahideen and was involved in keeping alive the prolonged unrest of 2016 following the killing of group's commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces, besides recruiting several young men into the outfit, police said.
The gunfight also left two soldiers martyred while unknown number of militants reportedly escaped from the spot.
In June this year, the Hizbul militant had released a video threatening of attacks against security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. He was also seen appealing to policemen to join the terror group and “save the world from destruction.”
In July, Yatoo, who was the newly appointed operational commander of Hizbul, had released an audio, targeting Zakir Musa, without naming him.
Meanwhile, authorities have directed telecom authorities to block mobile Internet services in Budgam district.