Army kills Sunjwan attack mastermind

Army kills Sunjwan attack mastermind

A top commander of the Jaish-e-Muhammad militant outfit, involved in last month's fidayeen (suicide) attack on an army installation in Sunjwan, was killed in an encounter with the security forces in Awantipora area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Monday.

"Based on specific intelligence about the presence of a militant in Hatwar, Awantipur, a joint operation was launched today (Monday) by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, army's 50 Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF," defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.

"During the operation, the mastermind of Sunjawan attack and Letapore attack, Jaish-e-Mohammed operational commander Mufti Waqas, a category A++, was eliminated in a surgical operation," he said.

Kalia claimed the killing of Waqas is the first major dent to the designs of the Jaish after the elimination of their earlier operational commander Noor Mohammad Tantrey in the same area on December 17.

State police chief Shesh Pal Vaid said besides Sunjuwan attack, Waqas was also involved in attacks on Pulwama district police lines and the BSF camp near Srinagar airport.

The killing of the top militant commander comes in the wake of a string of high-profile counter-insurgency operations that dealt blows to Jaish-e-Mohammad, Laskhar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen outfits in 2017.

Security forces killed around 220 militants in Kashmir last year.

On February 10, three heavily armed Jaish militants, all of them Pakistan nationals, stormed an army camp in Sunjwan area of Jammu after hurling grenades and using automatic gunfire.

Six soldiers and a civilian were killed in the attack which lasted nearly 60 hours. All the three attackers were killed in the retaliatory action by the army.

The killing of Waqas came barely a day after four civilians and two militants were killed in army firing in neighbouring Shopian district.

Reports said militants on Monday offered a gun salute to their slain colleague during his funeral in Shopian.

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