The Indian security forces have killed a top militant commander, Noor Mohammad Tantray in the restive Kashmir valley during an overnight raid, which ended on Tuesday (26 December) morning. Tantray has been a key commander in leading one of the wings of the locally powerful extremist organisation, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

Security personnel descended on Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir late on Monday, 25 December, after receiving information that Tantray could be in the hideout. Tantray, three-foot-tall and 47-year-old, has been wanted by the security forces for some time after he is said to have masterminded several attacks in the past six months.

Two others were holed up in the house and gunfight erupted when police launched the raid. "Encounter [police raid] going on since last evening in Awantipura district. There was input about the presence of 2/3 militants near NHW planning to attack a convoy. One dead body of militant recovered so far, search for others going on," SP Vaid, a senior police official, said.

Tantray, who is seen as a key commander in central and southern Kashmir, was arrested in 2003 but was later released on a parole in 2015. He had been on the run since then. It is believed that he had rejoined the militancy.

According to the police, Noora had been receiving funds from across the border for terror activities as he had become the chief finance handler for JeM. Muneer Khan, the chief of Kashmir police, told NDTV that Noora had become an active terrorist in the last few months.

"No one would suspect him to be a terrorist and that is why Jaish recruited him as an over-ground worker," a senior police officer told the Indian broadcaster NDTV citing his height. "He was also responsible for identifying his sources and keeping the cadre motivated."

Meanwhile, in a closely related development, three Pakistani army men were killed by Indian troops in one of the sensitive points near what is known as the Line of Control (LoC) between the two countries. While the Indian side said it was a retaliatory attack, Islamabad said it was an unprovoked raid by the Indian troops.

Monday's attack was reportedly launched in response to the death of four Indian soldiers, including an Army major, in alleged unprovoked Pakistani firing along the LoC.

India Pakistan tension
Indian Border Security Force troops patrol along the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistani Kashmir Tauseef Mustafa/AFP