A top Hizbul Mujahideen commander was killed in an encounter on Wednesday after he was captured in Handwara town of Jammu & Kashmir’s Kupwara district, reported The Indian Express, citing the police.

The police claimed the commander, Mehrajuddin Halwai, was killed in an exchange of fire after he got his hands on a rifle and started firing at security forces. This is the third such killing since June 4.

A police spokesperson said that Halwai was arrested during a routine vehicle checking at Watyen in Kupwara district on Tuesday evening, reported PTI.

“During his [Halwai] personal search, one grenade was recovered from his possession,” the spokesperson said. “Accordingly, he was immediately shifted to [the] nearest police post for questioning.”

The police said that Halwai disclosed the location of his hideout and multiple cordon and search operations were launched based on this information. “Upon reaching the disclosed hideout location, the said terrorist picked up his hidden AK-47 rifle and started firing indiscriminately upon the joint search party, which led to an encounter,” the police said. “In the ensuing firefight, the said terrorist got killed.”

Halwai had joined militancy in 2011, the police said. He had a diploma in computer application and used it to find new communication methods for the militants, the police claimed.

The police also said that Halwai was a contemporary of slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani. They alleged that Halwai was involved in the killings of civilians in north Kashmir.

On June 29, Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Nadeem Abrar was killed a day after he was captured in Srinagar. Similar to Halwai, Abrar was killed when he was taken to his hideout to recover arms, according to the police. They said a Pakistani militant, who was hiding in the house, opened fire, leading to the killing of Abrar. Three security forces personnel sustained injuries.

On June 4, an inmate was killed inside a police camp at Tral. The police said Mohammad Amin Malik snatched the rifle of a police officer during questioning and opened fire. They said Malik was then killed in a gunfight.

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