Massive hunt launched to track down ‘mastermind’ of Yatra attack: Police

Srinagar: The Indian Armed Forces have launched a massive hunt to track down Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander and Pakistani national Abu Ismail, the alleged mastermind of the deadly attack on Amarnath pilgrims.

The militant outfit on Tuesday, in a statement to Kashmir based news agency GNS called the attack on pilgrims a ‘highly reprehensible act’.

LeT spokesman Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi in a statement said, “The attack on Amarnath pilgrims is a highly reprehensible act. Islam does not allow violence against any faith. We strongly condemn such acts,” he said.

Seven Amarnath pilgrims were killed and 19 others were injured, after a suspected militant attack on the government forces in Batengoo, a village between Khanbal and Bejbehara, an area of Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to a senior police official, “operations have been launched, largely in South Kashmir, to track down the LeT commander as investigations including communication intercepts have pointed out to his involvement in the attack on Amarnath pilgrims.”

The official said that the “attack in Anantnag appears to be a reprisal for killing of several Lashkar militants including Bashir Lashkari in an encounter with security forces earlier this month.”

The top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Bashir Lashkari who was allegedly involved in the killing of six policemen, including an officer, was killed in an encounter with the armed forces.

Bashir Ahmad Wani alias Bashir Lashkari was killed in a gunfight with armed forces in Brenthi Batapora village of Anantnag district on Saturday, July 1.

“The terrorists are frustrated at the back-to-back losses suffered by them during counter-insurgency operations over the past month or so and have now resorted to attacking civilians and tourists,” he added.

According to the official, Ismail has been active in Kashmir for several years and had moved base to south Kashmir more than a year ago.

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