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Hizb has new commander in Kashmir


Srinagar, Aug 15 (IANS) The Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit has named Mohammad Bin Qasim as its new commander in Kashmir following the killing of Yasin Yatoo on Sunday.

Pakistan-based Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin in a statement named Mohammad Bin Qasim as the new operational commander of the largest militant group active in the state.

The new commander succeeds Yatoo whose loss has dealt a big blow to the Hizbul Mujahideen at a time when its former leader Zakir Musa has announced a breakaway group, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, an Al Qaeda affiliate in Kashmir.

Musa with his pan-Islamist assertions has been taking the centre stage of militancy in the valley and even threatened to kill those who refer to the Kashmir separatist campaign as a nationalistic movement.

Police sources said they had not heard of anyone in the current lot of Hizb militants named Mohammad Bin Qasim.

As per intelligence records, there is no active Hizb militant in Kashmir with that code name, the sources said.

But a source guessed that it could well be Riyaz Naikoo who has been active as Hizbul divisional commander in south Kashmir.

Naikoo, 27, is a resident of Awantipora town in Pulwama district. He joined militancy in 2012 and has since been involved in a number of attacks and militancy related activities in south Kashmir, according to police.

Unlike Musa, Naikoo has been asserting in his social media messages that the separatist campaign in Kashmir is political in nature and has got nothing to do with the global Islamist movement.

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