Mastermind of Pulwama attack gunned down; four army men martyred in encounter

Updated: Feb 18, 2019, 19:48 IST | IANS

The gunfight started late on Sunday after security forces, including the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Special Operations Group (SOG) of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force

Mastermind of Pulwama attack gunned down; four army men martyred in encounter
Pic/ANI

Pulwama (Jammu and Kashmir): Four Army personnel, including a major, and two Jaish terrorists were killed in an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on Monday, three days after a suicide bomber from the group drove his explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus in the area, defence officials said. A civilian was also killed in the exchange of fire in Pinglan area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district, they said.

"The terrorists are believed to be linked to the February 14 car bombing. The exact identities of the two terrorists killed are being ascertained," a defence spokesperson said. Security forces launched a cordon and search operation during the night after receiving inputs about the presence of militants in the area, a police official said. Militants fired at forces as the searches got underway, triggering a gun battle, officials said.

The gunfight started late on Sunday after security forces, including the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Special Operations Group (SOG) of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), surrounded the village following a tip off that Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants -- the same group that carried out the February 14 attack leaving a toll 49 troopers -- were hiding in the area. According to sources, a top Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) commander linked to the Pulwama terror attack is believed to be trapped in the ongoing encounter.

"As the cordon was tightened, the holed-up militants fired triggering the gunfight. Firing exchanges have again started at the encounter site," the police added.

The deceased personnel have been identified as Major V S Dhoundiyal from Dehradun, Havaldar Sheo Ram from Jhunjhunu, Sepoy Ajay Kumar from Meerut and Sepoy Hari Singh from Rewari. They belonged to 55 Rashtriya Rifles.

The gun battle comes less than a week after 40 CRPF troopers were blown up in an instant just four days back after their convoy was targeted by a JeM suicide bomber on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Pulwama.

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The suicide attack on the convoy carrying troopers towards Srinagar had blown up a bus when an explosive-packed SUV rammed into the paramilitary vehicle. It was the worst-ever attack in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy erupted in the state in 1989.

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