Pulwama mastermind, 4 soldiers killed in 18-hr gunfight

Pulwama mastermind, 4 soldiers killed in 18-hr gunfight

DIG of police, Brigadier among 10 injured

An encounter has started between terrorists and security forces in Pinglan area of Pulwama district in South Kashmir. PTI file photo

Four soldiers, three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants, one of them being suspected of having plotted last week’s terror attack that killed more 49 CRPF men, a police constable and a civilian were killed in 18-hour long gunfight in Pinglina village of south Kashmir’s volatile Pulwama district on Monday.
 
At least ten security forces’ personnel, including a brigadier and a lieutenant colonel and a deputy inspector general of the Jammu and Kashmir police, were also injured in the gunfight that broke out shortly after midnight Pinglina, about 12 km from where a suicide bomber belonging to the JeM drove his explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus last week, killing 49 personnel.
 
The slain army men were identified as Major V S Dhondial, Havaldar Sheo Ram and sepoys Hari Singh and Ajay Kumar while the dead policeman was identified as constable Abdul Rashid Kalas. The injured included DIG (south Kashmir) Amit Kumar and brigadier Habir Singh. All the injured were airlifted to 92 Base hospital in Srinagar, said an official.
 
A police spokesman identified the two slain militants as Kamran, a Pakistani and Hilal Ahmad, a local bomb specialist. “As per police records Kamran remained active in Pulwama since 2017 and was responsible for the recruitment into the terror fold. Several terror crime cases were registered against him. His role in the recent terror attack on CRPF at Lethpora is being probed as well,” he said.
 
The gunfight erupted after a joint team of the army’s Rashtriya Rifles and state police launched a cordon-and-search-operation in Pinglina following in inputs about the presence of some Jaish militants in the area. “As the cordon was tightened, the militants fired at the forces, triggering a gunfight. In the initial firing, five army personnel were injured. They were shifted to hospital, where four of them, including Major Dhondial died,” police said. 
 
The owner of the house, where the militants were hiding, identified as Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat was also killed in the incident. While two militants were killed in retaliatory action by the security forces by afternoon, the third kept firing till evening, injuring DIG Kumar and a Brigadier and seven other security personnel, police said.
 
The third militant was killed in the evening, ending one of the bloodiest encounters in recent months in the Valley. Earlier, intelligence input had indicated that Jaish commander Abdul Rashid Gazi was one of them. However, police neither confirmed nor denied about his presence in the area.
 
On Thursday, Adil Ahmad Dar, a 21-yer-old local militant, had rammed a car packed with huge explosives into a CRPF convoy killing 49 paramilitary personnel and injuring dozens others. It was the deadliest single attack on security forces in Kashmir. Jaish, the terror group that operates from Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for the attack.

MUST READ | Full Coverage on Pulwama Terror Attack