Hundreds of Indian soldiers launched an operation late on Tuesday after receiving intelligence that Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo was hiding in a village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Naikoo’s death is being seen as a major victory for India’s counterinsurgency efforts and is likely to spark more unrest in the disputed region.
Naikoo, 35, was a former mathematics teacher who joined the separatists in 2012, two years after about 100 people were killed by troops during a restive summer marked by protests and violence. He had a bounty of 1.2 million rupees ($15,800) on his head. Naikoo was an aide to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, who was killed in July 2016, leading to months of unrest. After Wani’s death, Naikoo helped give new life to the rebel movement. He unified the ranks, which had been divided by splinter factions.