In a major breakthrough in the fight against terror, top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo, on the run for eight years, was killed on Wednesday by security forces in his village in Kashmir’s Pulwama district, police said.
Anticipating a law and order problem, authorities suspended mobile telephone services of private operators and mobile internet services across the Valley.
Security forces engaged with terrorists in two gunbattles in the south Kashmir district, one in Sharshalli village where two unidentified terrorists were killed and the other in Beighpora in Awantipora where they finally put down Naikoo who was holed up with another terrorist.
His accomplice attempted to escape by charging at security forces but was also killed.
The gunning down of the top terrorist commander comes three days after eight security personnel, including two Army officers Colonel Ashutosh Sharma and Major Anuj Sood, were killed in Handwara.
News of the killing of 32-year-old Naikoo, who carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head and had escaped the police thrice, led to some incidents of people pelting stones at security forces. However, this was handled with care to ensure there was was no collateral damage, an official said.
Naikoo became the de facto chief of the terror group after the death of Burhan Wani, the poster boy of militancy in the Valley, in July 2016.