Security forces have “wiped out” the al Qaeda-inspired Ansar Ghazwat-ul-hind (AGH) terror group from the Kashmir Valley, a top police official said on Friday — a remark that came after seven militants of the outfit, including its chief Imtiyaz Shah, were killed in two separate encounters in less than 24 hours.
Dilbag Singh, director general of Jammu and Kashmir Police, said the militants were killed in Shopian and Tral. “Both operations are over. Five terrorists in the first and two in the second operation have been neutralised,” Singh told News18.
“Terrorist group AGH (Ansar Gazwat-ul-hind) has been fully wiped out once again,” Singh said. He added that seven AK assault rifles and two pistols were recovered from the two encounter sites.
This is the second time in two years that police claimed a big breakthrough against the al Qaeda-linked group. Its cadres have been few — believed to be in double digits — over the past four years.
The AGH was founded by Zakir Musa, a close aide to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose July 2016 encounter killing triggered protests in the Valley. After Wani’s death, Musa founded the AGH and led it for three years, before he too was killed in an encounter in May 2019.
In Tral, the gunfight began Friday morning. Police said two militants, including AGH leader Imtiyaz Shah, were killed there and a hideout was busted. In Shopian, five militants were killed, while two personnel suffered injuries.
The Shopian encounter began around 4pm on Thursday, and three militants were shot dead within a few hours of the operation. The other two were killed in a gunfight after they refused to surrender.
The AGH has been involved in several terror-related incidents in the Valley. In October 2019, about five months after Musa’s death, police first said for the first time they wiped out the outfit. But it surfaced again.
K Vijay Kumar, the inspector general of police (Kashmir zone), congratulated security forces for carrying out the two successful operations in Shopian and Tral. Police said though both operation were over, the combing operation was going on at sites.