SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

After three days of clashes, government forces in Indian-administered Kashmir claimed on Monday that they killed a top commander of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group.

Kashmir region Police Chief Vijay Kumar confirmed that security forces had killed Wilayat Lone, alias Sajad Afghani, JeM district commander in the southern Rawalpora area of Shopian District on Monday.

The police added that Lone was instrumental in recruiting militants in the south of Kashmir, especially in Shopian. “It is a big success for the security forces,” Kumar said.

He was a resident of Rawalpora village in Shopian district and had been involved in militancy since 2018, according to the police.

Earlier, a local Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant identified as Jahangir Ahmad Wani was also killed in an encounter with the police on Sunday.

“A US-made M4-rifle and 36 armor-piercing rounds were recovered from his possession,” the police said in a statement.

Following a specific input on the presence of militants in Rawalpora village of Shopian, the Indian Army and the regional police launched a search operation on Friday evening.

Subsequently, militants and security forces exchanged gun fire. “The cordon laid by the government forces remained intact for two nights,” the police said and added that at least three houses were damaged during the exchange of fire.

Later, locals from the village gathered to protest the incident. It was reported that the police and security forces fired pellet gun shots and tear gas shells to control the protesters, leading to injuries.

Local sources requesting anonymity said a 22-year-old youth identified as Arif Wagay suffered a pellet injury in his left eye and was taken to hospital.

Internet connections in the district have been down for the past three days after the police and security forces operation, he added.

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965, and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.​​​​​​​

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