Additional Director General of Police (Kashmir), Vijay Kumar, on Tuesday announced that the top Lashkar-e-Toiba Commander Uzair Khan has been killed in the operation against militants at Gadole forest, Kokernag in Anantnag.
The ADGP informed reporters, "Uzair Khan has been killed, and his body has been recovered." Another body was also found near the site of the gunfight, he added.
Kumar stated that they had information about two to three militants in the area and the search operation would continue for some time.
Due to potential threat of unexploded grenades or shells, residents in the area have been advised to stay away from the encounter site.
Regarding casualties on the security forces' side, he confirmed that three officers, two from the army and one from the police, in addition to a soldier, lost their lives during the encounter.
Khan, an A-category militant, was trapped in the Gadole forest in Kokernag along with another suspected foreign militant. They were involved in the killing of Colonel Manpreet Singh, Major Asheesh Dhanchok of Army’s 19 Rashtriya Rifles, and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Himayun Muzamil Bhat on September 13 during an anti-militancy operation in Anantnag.
The operation was initiated at night upon receiving intelligence about the presence of militants in the area. The officers came under heavy fire as they approached the suspected hideout.
Due to the intense firefight and difficult circumstances, they couldn't be promptly rescued, resulting in their demise. During the initial shootout, another soldier was also injured and his body was found on the third day of the operation.
After losing the three officers, the Army and Police cordoned off the forest, employing heavy weaponry and drones to target their hideouts.
Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh, ADGP Kumar, Army 15 Corps commander Lt Gen Rajiv Ghai, Chief of Army’s Northern Command Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, and senior CRPF officers visited Kokernag to assess the situation and oversee the operation.
A substantial number of troops from the Police, Army, and CRPF secured the area and blocked all potential escape routes. Various aerial assets and tools including, UAVs, the Israeli Heron Mark 2, Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGL), and Rocket Propelled Grenades (PPG), were used by the security forces to flush out the militants.
On the fifth day of the operation, a charred body was discovered in the Gadole forest. The police announced it would collect DNA samples from Khan's family to confirm the identity of the body. While another body of the missing soldier was recovered on Monday evening.
Earlier, the DGP had said that due to the challenging terrain and significant risks involved, the security forces were following a meticulously planned strategy to track down the terrorists.
The Kokernag operation has turned out to be the longest in Kashmir in a decade, lasting seven days.