Kerala terrorists in Kashmir shootout? (Lead)

October 8th, 2008 - 2:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Srinagar/Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 8 (IANS) The killing of two suspected terrorists in the Kashmir Valley this week has led to three versions. While officials in Kashmir say the two were from Kerala, intelligence sources in Delhi believe only one was from the state. The Kerala Police is denying all links. The only certainty is that the two terrorists killed in Kashmir’s Lolab Valley in Kupwara district, about 130 km from the summer capital Srinagar, were from the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Kashmir’s Inspector General of Police B. Srinivas said two militants, who he maintained were from Kerala, were killed in separate encounters earlier this week.

“Yes, we have killed two terrorists in two separate encounters earlier this week, both of whom belong to Kerala,” he said.

“They belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba group and their code names are Yasin and Fayaz,” he said, adding that one was killed Monday and the other Tuesday in joint operations of the police and the army.

Asked whether the slain guerrillas from Kerala had any links with the Indian Mujahideen that is said to have carried out the recent bombings in Delhi, Srinivas said: “It would be premature to make a comment like that. We have got in touch with the Kerala Police to establish the background of the slain terrorists.”

However, intelligence sources in Delhi maintain that while two Lashkar militants were killed, only one was from Kerala — identified as Mohammed Sakeer from Kovalam.

The sources pointed out this was the first time in the nearly two decades of militancy in the state that such a connection had emerged. The militants gunned down were part of a group trying to sneak into Pakistani Kashmir and a hunt had been mounted for the others who reportedly escaped during the brief exchange.

“This is certainly disturbing and we are exploring how strong are the links of Kerala jehadists with Pakistani militant groups and if more have exfiltrated for training,” said a top intelligence functionary.

The Kerala Police added a new twist to the tale saying that none belonged to the state.

Kerala Inspector General of Police Arun Kumar Sinha said the issue rose after an identity card found on one of the two killed belonged to a person in Malappuram.

“Mohammed Sakeer is very much in Malappuram and we also made detailed inquires in Kovalam where there were reports that one of the killed had links here in Kovalam. Our detailed inquires have revealed that there is no Kerala connection with the two killed (in) Jammu and Kashmir,” said Sinha.

A team of the Kerala Police is scheduled to visit the valley to carry out an identification process.

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