Militant involved in Pulwama attack killed in Kashmir

The encounter started when the militants opened fire on the security forces who were conducting a cordon-and-search operation following inputs about the presence of the ultras, the official said. PTI file photo

Two Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants, including the one involved in February 14 Pulwama fidayeen (suicide) attack, and a soldier were killed in a fierce gun battle in Bijbehara area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Tuesday.

Two more soldiers were injured in the gun battle which erupted in Waghoma, Bijbehara, 48 kms from here, after a joint team of Army and J&K police launched a cordon-and-search-operation (CASO), following ‘specific inputs’ about the presence of ultras in the area.

A police spokesperson said as the search operation was going on, the hiding militants fired on the search party. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter, he said. In the exchange of fire, three army men sustained injuries. One of them identified as Anil Jaswal succumbed at the hospital, the spokesman said.

“In the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed, who were identified as Sajad Ahmad Bhat and Tawseef Ahmad Bhat both residents of Marhama, Bijbehara,” he said and added as per the records, both the slain militants were affiliated with proscribed outfit JeM and were wanted by law for their complicity in a series of crimes including attacks on security establishments and civilians.

According to the police records, 22-year-old Sajad was wanted in Lethpora, Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed on February 14. 

“As per the material evidence collected during the course of investigation, it was learnt that Maruti Eco vehicle used for carrying out the blast in Lethpora was owned by one Sajad. As the news of Sajad’s involvement spread, he escaped and joined JeM,” the spokesman said.

“A picture of Sajad carrying AK-47 rifle was also circulated on social media announcing his joining the outfit. Pertinently Tawseef played a key role in recruiting of Sajad to the militant ranks,” he added.

The National Investigation Agency  (NIA), probing Pulwama fidayeen attack, had conducted raids at Sajjad’s home, school and houses of his relatives but he went into hiding after the attack. The NIA had found during its probe that the car was sold in 2011 to Mohammad Jaleel Ahmed Haqani, resident of Heaven Colony, Anantnag. Sajjad had bought the vehicle on February 4, 2019, and had brought it to Pulwama from Anantnag. 

This was the second encounter in less than 24 hours in Anantnag. On Monday, an Army Major was killed while another officer and two troopers were injured in the encounter.

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