Top Hizbul Commander Riyaz Naikoo, Burhan Wani’s Successor, Killed in Encounter in J&K’s Pulwama

The overnight operation by the security forces started on Tuesday evening when a massive search operation was launched in Naikoo’s village.

Top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo, on the run for eight years, was on Wednesday killed in an encounter with security forces in his home village in Kashmir’s Pulwama district, officials said.

The Jammu and Kashmir authorities have already snapped mobile internet services across the Valley as a precautionary measure, in anticipation of a possible a law and order problem, police said, adding that there are strict restrictions on the movement of people.

Naikoo, operational commander of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen, was trapped in Beighpora village in Pulwama, the officials said.

An official confirmation is awaited from the Indian Army.

A police spokesperson said earlier in the morning that a top terrorist commander along with an accomplice was trapped in an encounter but did not reveal his identity.

Later in the day, officials disclosed that the man in their sights was Naikoo, who carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh. They had been looking for him for eight years.

Naikoo became the de facto chief of the terror group after the death of Burhan Wani, the poster boy of militancy in the Valley, in July 2016.