Clashes in south Kashmir as forces cordon off Zakir Musa's village to track him down

| | Srinagar

Intense clashes erupted in Noorpora village of south Kashmir’s Awantipora area on Friday after Army and local police cordoned off a portion of the village suspecting presence of Zakir Musa, a former Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist who has recently been declared as the chief of newly-floated Ansar Gazwatul Hind, an al-Qaeda affiliate that seeks to connect Kashmir issue with global Jehadi movement. Noorpora, 33, kilometers in south from here, is the native village of Musa, who has been vocal against Pakistan, Hizbul Mujahideen and Hurriyat Conference leaders.

Sources said the cordon was lifted late in the evening after conducting house to house searches. The villagers shouted slogans against the security forces and tried to hamper the cordon and search operation with stone-pelting. Three days ago, three militants belonging to Zakir Musa group were killed in a brief shootout at Wanibatu village in the area. Police said the trio was affiliated with Gazwatul Hind outfit but Hizbul Mujahideen claimed that the militants were returning to the outfit’s fold when they were intercepted and killed by security forces. The entire Tral area is observing shutdown since Wednesday.

Zakir Musa, 27, belongs to a well-to-do family in Noorpora who joined militancy in 2015 after leaving engineering course midway from a college in Chandigarh. He was an aide of slain Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani and took reins of the outfit after his killing in July 2016.

However, a few months ago, he developed differences with Hizb leadership and finally quit the group. Most of the Hizb militants in Tral area, except one or two, remained loyal to Zakir Musa. There is no evidence whether the trio was going to rejoin their parent group but the Hizb statement issued after their killing points towards the chinks deepening in the militant ranks.

Zakir Musa, usually releases audio clips on social media. 



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