Three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants, including the mastermind of February 14 Pulwama terror attack that killed over 40 CRPF personnel, were killed in an encounter with security forces in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Monday.
“One of the slain terrorists has been identified as Mudasir Khan, alias Mohammad Bhai, JeM commander believed to have masterminded the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were killed,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.
He said DNA samples of two other slain militants have been taken to identify them as their bodies were charred. “From the incriminating material recovered from the site of encounter, it is understood that second killed militant was a Pakistani national code-named Khalid,” he said.
The encounter in Pinglish area of Tral erupted during the intervening night of Sunday and Monday after a joint team of army’s 42-Rashtriya Rifles, CRPF and police launched a cordon-and-search-operation (CASO) following ‘specific inputs’ about the presence of the militants in the area.
Sources said as the searches were going on, the hiding militants fired on security forces. “In retaliation, the security forces blasted off the house in which the militants were hiding. The house was completely destroyed in the operation while both the militants were neutralised,” they added.
Reports said soon after the gunfight started, youth attempted to break the cordon and tried to march towards the encounter site in a bid to help the trapped militants to escape. However, security forces used tear gas shells to disperse them.
The JeM had claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in Pulwama on February 14 that left 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers dead in the worst ever attack since militancy began in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989.
Last Monday two local militants of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit were killed in Tral area. Though violence is on a surge since 2014, there has been a spurt in recent months. In 2018, the death toll for militants and security forces in Kashmir touched the highest point in a decade.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs data between 2014 and 2018, there has been a 93 per rise in the number of security personnel killed in Militant incidents in Jammu and Kashmir.