A top commander of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayiba was on Thursday arrested and his close aide was killed in an encounter with security forces in Sopore township of north Kashmir, police said.
Chief Commander (Operations) of LeT for north, Qari Naveed alias "Fahad" was arrested from Bahrampora village of Sopore, 55 kms from Srinagar, by a joint party of police and army, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Abdul Gani Mir told reporters in Srinagar.
He said Naveed, a resident of Multan in Pakistan, was arrested on a specific information and his questioning led to the killing of his close associate Shabir Ahmad Sheikh alias "Tamim" in a gunfight at Wagub village near Tarzoo in Sopore.
"Based on the information provided by the Pakistani militant during questioning, an operation was launched by security forces to track down two militants in an orchard at Wagub. The militants hiding in the orchards fired upon the advancing security forces and in the retaliatory fire, Sheikh was killed," Mir said.
However, one militant identified as Hilal Moulvi alias "Khalid" managed to escape from the area using the men and women working in the orchards as "human shield", the officer said.
He said Sheikh, who was a resident of Palhallan area of Baramulla, was the mastermind in the killing of Sarpanch Ghulam Mohammad Yatoo in Pattan area in September last year.
Giving details about involvement of Naveed, the IGP said he was the top most commander of LeT in the Valley and had taken over the outfit after the killing of Abdullah Uni and Akash Bader in Sopore in 2011.
"The Pakistani militant was involved in the killing of SPO Riyaz Ahmad in September last year besides masterminding the grenade attacks in Sopore in July, August and September last year," he said.
He said two AK assault rifles, five magazines, two pistols and five grenades were recovered from the possession of the arrested and slain militants.
With inputs from Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar