SRINAGAR - Government forces have killed the commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad group in Held Kashmir , police claimed Tuesday, as the disputed territory ended its deadliest year for a decade. Noor Mohammad Tantray was trapped in a house outside Srinagar on Monday evening along with his associates, triggering a fierce overnight gunbattle.

The 47-year-old JeM commander, who was only three feet tall according to police reports, was described by officials as a new “security headache”.

As the news of Tantray’s death spread, hundreds of residents shouting “Go, India, go back!” spilt onto the streets, throwing stones and clashing with government forces who fired tear gas and pellet guns. At least six protesters were injured, a police officer said.

Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan at the end of British colonial rule over the subcontinent in 1947. Both claim the entire Muslim-majority territory in full.

Since 1989 Kashmiri groups including JeM have been fighting Indian troops and police deployed in the Himalayan territory. They seek its merger with Pakistan or its independence.

The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.

Violence had steadily decreased during the last decade but this year some 350 deaths have been reported following the Indian army’s anti-freedom fighters offensive dubbed “Operation All-Out”.

Officials and rights groups say 210 suspected freedom fighters, mostly locals, 57 civilians and 82 troops or police have been killed this year.