Research scholar among two Hizbul militants killed in Kashmir

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Srinagar: Banned terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen suffered a setback Thursday when its top commander Manaan Bashir Wani, who shunned a PhD course in the AMU to join militancy, was killed along with his associate in a gunbattle with security forces in north Kashmir, police said.

The 27-year-old Wani, who quit PhD studies in Allied Geology and joined the militant ranks in January this year, was killed at Shatgund village in Handwara area of Kupwara district during the encounter this morning, they said.

Another Hizb militant Ashiq Hussain, who hailed from Langate area of Handwara, was also killed in the operation during which two security force personnel sustained injuries, a police official said.

The encounter broke out in the early hours in Shatgund following specific intelligence about the presence of Wani along with two others in the village.

Giving details, the official said police and other security forces personnel were fired upon by the holed up militants resulting in exchange of fire which continued until 11 am.

The police made repeated announcements through public address system appealing the militants to surrender, he said.

There was a lull in firing at around 9 am, prompting the police to initiate search operation at the encounter site, but it had to be suspended after firing resumed 15 minutes later, the official said.

Outstanding in studies, Wani, who got his basic education in Jawahar Navodya Vidyalaya and Sainik School Manasbal, was considered to be the chief recruiter for militants in north Kashmir area following elimination of some of the top ultras in the region over the past two years.

After the due legal process, Wani's body was handed over to his family for last rites in which over 10,000 people participated at his native village at Tekipora in Lolab area of Kupwara district.

As soon as news of Wani's death spread, people took to streets in protest and at some places they resorted to stone pelting on the security forces.

Authorities shut down schools and other educational institutions in north Kashmir as a precautionary measure for maintaining law and order.

Internet services were also snapped in the region while many areas observed a spontaneous shut down.

Separatist leaders have called for a complete shutdown on Friday as a mark of tribute to the slain militant.

"Alas! heard the tragic news of #MananWani's martyrdom and of his associates! Deeply pained that we lost a budding intellectual and writer like him, fighting for the of cause of self-determination. JRL appeals to people to observe a complete #Shutdown tomorrow to pay homage to him," moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said in a tweet.

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