Indian armed forces killed top militant Hizbul commander

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian government forces killed the top militant commander in Himalayan region of Kashmir on Friday, officials said.

Police Director-General K. Rajendra said that Burhan Wani, chief of operations of Indian Kashmir's largest militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed in the fighting after Indian troops, acting on a tip, cordoned a forested village in the southern Kashmir's Kokernag area.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in entirety by both. On India's side, about a dozen militant groups have been fighting for independence or merger with Pakistan since 1989.

In his early 20's, Wani had become the iconic face of militancy in Kashmir over the last five years.

Inspector-General Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani described his killing as the "biggest success against militants" in recent years.

The killing is expected to trigger large scale anti-India protests in the restive region and officials are expected to impose a security lockdown, a police officer said on customary condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk to reporters.

Separatist leaders have already called for a shutdown in the region on Saturday to protest the killings.

Most citizens in the mostly Muslim region have long resented the Indian presence, and support rebel demands for independent or merging with Pakistan.



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