Top Kashmiri militant Zakir Musa was killed in an encounter with security forces on Thursday night in a village in Tral area of Pulwama district, said the police.

“The [slain] terrorist was identified as Zakir Musa after the body was recovered Friday morning,” defence spokesperson Rajesh Kalia told PTI. “Weapons and war-like stores were recovered from the encounter site”.

Security forces had launched a cordon-and-search operation at Dadsara village. A gunfight broke out when Musa tried to escape. A joint team of security forces, including the Indian Army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles, Special Operations Group, and Central Reserve Police Force, was involved in the operation. Kalia said that the operation has been called off now.

“The encounter has ended,” Inspector General of Police SP Pani said according to ANI. “The operation was handed well, there was no collateral damage, arms and ammunition have been recovered. Further investigation is underway.”

Officials said efforts were made to convince Musa to surrender but he allegedly threw grenades at them which led to the encounter. Additional security personnel were sent to the area to prevent him from escaping in the darkness.

The Indian Army praised the security forces for the operation. “Assuredly moving towards #TerrorismFreeKashmir”, the Army tweeted.

Musa was a former Hizbul Mujahideen commander and the chief of Al-Qaeda’s Kashmir cell. He joined terrorism in 2013 and came to lime light after security forces killed terrorist Burhan Wani in 2016.

Protests in Valley

Protests broke out Thursday night in Shopian, Pulwama, Awantipora and Srinagar. People shouted slogans in favour of Musa, prompting authorities to impose curfew in some parts of the Valley as a precautionary measure.

Internet connectivity has also been suspended and the administration has ordered closure of all educational institutions on Friday.