SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

A senior member of the Al-Badr militant group active in Indian-administered Kashmir was killed in a gunfight with Indian security forces on Tuesday, regional police said.

Kashmir’s chief of police Vijay Kumar said that security forces killed Gani Khawaja, Al-Badr’s operational head, in a military operation in the town of Tujjar Shareef Sopore, roughly 48 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of the regional capital Srinagar.

“We have killed Al-Badr chief Gani Khawaja in the ensuing encounter at Tujjar, Sopore,” Kumar said, underlining that Khawaja’s killing represented a major success for the government forces.

The Kashmir police zone also said on Twitter: “One unidentified terrorist killed. Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition recovered. Search going on. Further details shall follow.”

According to police sources, Khawaja had taken up militancy in 2018 and had since been active in the region.

Earlier, regional police and the Indian military had launched a cordon and search operation in the Tujjar area of Sopore after intelligence suggesting militant presence.

So far this year, nine militants have been killed in gunfights with government forces in four military operations.

Last year, 225 militants including many top commanders had been killed in 103 operations in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, according to official sources.

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by 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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