SRINAGAR: A breakaway faction of the Hizbul Mujahideen separatist guerrilla group is responsible for the recent killings in north Kashmir's Sopore town, a police officer said on Tuesday.
"It is the same group that had tried to disrupt telecom operations in and around Sopore areas earlier," Deputy Inspector General of Police (North Kashmir) Gareeb Das told IANS.
"Lashkar-e-Islam is a split group of Hizbul Mujahideen and we have vital clues that the killings of former militants in Sopore have been carried out by this group."
He added: "These are reprisal killings."
The north Kashmir police chief said they were hot on the heels of those responsible for these killings.
He said the police has successfully neutralized the threat to telecom operations posed by the Lashkar-e-Islam and now it is proceeding to arrest and expose those behind recent killings of former militants in Sopore town.
With the killing of Aijay Ahmad Reshi by unidentified gunmen in Mundji area of Sopore town on Monday, the number of mysterious murders of former militants in the town has gone up to four.
Reshi was a former militant of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen group.
Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has given orders to the security forces to nab those responsible for the killings so that the fear among the people in Sopore town is removed.
Mysterious killings of former militants have brought senior separatist leaders close to each other after nearly 12 years.
Leaders of hardline Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani, moderate group headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) headed by Muhammad Yasin Malik and Democratic Freedom Party headed by Shabir Shah met inside Jamia Mosque in old city Srinagar late on Monday to express concern over the killings and chalk out a joint strategy.
These leaders have called a protest shutdown on Wednesday and a march to Sopore town on Friday.