As the NIA continues its probe to unearth the people behind Thursday's gruesome Pulwama ‘fidayeen’ attack, in which 49 paramilitary CRPF were killed, police have detained over a dozen suspects during fresh raids in south Kashmir.
Source told DH police continued to carry out raids in several localities of Pulwama and Awantipora and detained 16 suspects. “Forces raided Rahmoo, Awantipora, Kakapora and other villages and picked up 16 youths in connection with the Lethpora attack,” they said and added the suspects will be questioned by the sleuths of National Investigation Agency (NIA) later.
“Police have also begun a massive manhunt for Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who is a trained Afghan IED expert and a trusted lieutenant of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar. Ghazi is said to be the main conspirator in the terror attack. He (Ghazi) had also recruited suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar who drove an explosive-laden car and rammed the vehicle into the CRPF convoy,” they said.
Earlier, the police had detained 13 suspects. Reports said in several areas of southern Kashmir nocturnal raids by security forces have forced scores of youth to go into hiding.
A senior police officer said the Jaish had sent Ghazi to the Valley in December last year to carry out high profile attack on security forces. “The attack was executed to take revenge for the killings of Jaish commanders Talha Rashid and Usman Haider and mark the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru,” he said.
Both Talha and Usman were Masood Azhar’s nephews and were killed by security forces in encounters in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Sources said after two-days of investigations, the NIA has also recovered a portion of the bumper and the axel that were both likely parts of the red car, used by the lone suicide bomber to carry out the deadly attack on a CRPF convoy on Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
“The NIA has established that the car used in the attack was a red Maruti Eeco car, and not a Scorpio as believed earlier. The NIA has also found the model of the car used as a portion of the bumper and the axel were found from the terror attack spot. The investigators are now trying the trace the owner of the car,” they revealed.
Sources said that the NIA have statements on the red car from CRPF personnel, who have said that they saw it speeding alongside the convoy on the highway near Latoomode in Lethpura. “It kept driving along the convoy for a couple of minutes. The driver was even asked to keep his vehicle away as he was getting too close to the convoy. But moments later he crashed into a bus and detonated the IED,” they added.