Militant leader linked to Al-Qaeda killed in Indian Kashmir

A Kashmiri youth wearing a shirt depicting a picture of militant commander Zakir Musa, as he stands inside of a damaged house where Musa was killed at Dadsara village in Tral, south of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, on May 24, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW DELHI (DPA) - Security forces in India-administered Kashmir have killed militant commander Zakir Musa, linked to Al-Qaeda in the region, known for using propaganda to call for an Islamic caliphate in Kashmir and India.

Musa, the leader of the Ansar Ghazwat-ul Hind (Helpers of the Conquest of India) was shot dead after the forces trapped him inside a house in the Tral area of Pulwama district on Thursday evening (May 23).

Musa was described by security officials as India's "most wanted militant" and local media said his death was the "biggest success" for the security forces since the killing of another militant leader, Burhan Wani, popular among the youth in the volatile region.

"Assuredly moving towards terrorism-free Kashmir. Terrorist leadership targeted successfully in Tral. Zakir Bhat Musa leader of AGuH neturalised," a tweet by the Chinar Corps of the Indian Army said on Friday.

In the last 18 days, Indian security forces have eliminated as many as 16 militants, broadcaster NDTV reported.

Musa, 25, an engineering dropout, joined the militancy in 2013. He was a close associate of Wani, whose killing triggered a period of unrest in which over 100 civilians were killed. Musa had quit the Hizbul Mujahideen group to head the al-Qaeda-linked group AGuH.

The local administration ordered the closure of all educational institutions on Friday and also suspended internet services in the region to prevent any outbreak of violence.

The disputed Kashmir region is divided in two parts, one administered by India and the other by Pakistan.

India-administered Kashmir has seen a deadly secessionist movement since the 1980s. India claims Pakistan aids and abets Kashmiri militants, a charge the latter denies.

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