‘US-made gun’ used by NATO in Afghanistan found with wanted Kashmiri militant

Security establishment in Jammu and Kashmir have gone into tizzy after a Hizbul Mujahideen militant’s picture flaunting an American-made sophisticated rifle went viral on the social newtorking websites.

The picture of local rebel Sameer alias Tiger holding M16 AR-15 carbine rifle in an orchard, believed to be somewhere in south of Kashmir, is doing rounds on the popular social networking websites. The picture has widely been shared by the netizens and raised questions about the presence of a gun in Kashmir which is used by the NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Mostly used by the NATO forces battling Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, this American origin rifle is a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle. The gun has a 14.5 in (370 mm) barrel and a telescoping stock.

Hizbul Mujahideen militant Sameer spotted with American made rifle. Kashmir Dispatch couldn’t independently verify the picture.

The US armed forces extensively use M4 carbine replacing the M16 rifle in United States Army and United States Marine Corps combat units as the primary infantry weapon.

The discovery of the high-end assault rifle with Kashmiri fighters has also come as a shock to the law enforcement agencies, who have been claiming that the militancy in the region was on wane.

Security agencies are tight-lipped over the number of such rifles with the militant groups. However, a senior police official, insisting not to be named, told the Kashmir Dispatch that the possession of M16 carbines was a cause of concern for the security agencies.

Highly placed sources have told Kashmir Dispatch that the American rifle may have been brought along by a Jaish-e-Muhammad militants who recently infiltrated into Indian-Kashmir through the Pir Panjal mountain range in Jammu division.

A report by a Delhi-based newspaper – published earlier this month said that “Jaish-e-Mohammad fidayeens are the new force multipliers of the Pakistan intelligence apparatus to keep the pot boiling in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Sources had said that a 17-member group of Jaish fidayeens were pushed in from Pir Panjal into Jammu and Kashmir to replenish the militant ranks in July following the killing of the cadres in the valley.

Sources said the militants later took the Poonch-Shupian route to enter into south Kashmir region where they were distributed to different areas. Three of the fidayeens were killed when they attacked the District Police Lines Pulwom on August 26. Eight security force men —four each from CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police — were killed and six others injured in the encounter.

Sources said the highly trained fidayeens had a job cut out to carry out a suicidal attack on the camps and vital installations to boost the morale of the militants operating in Kashmir.

“The inputs are these fidayeens (killed on Tuesday) were from the same group. Three of them were eliminated at Pulwom. Things are to be verified. But I think this group infiltrated in the month of July-August from Shakargah side. But we will verify things,” sMunir Ahmad Khan, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, had said.

Sameer alias Tiger is a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen and is among most wanted. “An American-made gun with the wanted Hizb militant indicates that there may be a deeper coordination between the Jaish and Hizb. We are also probing if the gun is American or a copy,” a senior police officer in South Kashmir, who wished not to be named, told Kashmir Dispatch.

“The weapon is not a battle hardened weapon. It was used during Vietnam war and it was also used in North East and Myanmar. There is nothing to worry. Let them make its operational use, we will deal with it,” one among the senior most police officials told Kashmir Dispatch, adding: “There is no need to panic. There are two things: one, we have to see whether it’s a dummy and secondly it is not more dangerous than an AK 47 rifle.”

The senior police officer said: “These (new militants) boys are more into display. They lack training and they lack courage.”

(Additional reporting from Srinagar)