Three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists — including Abdul Rasheed Ghazi alias Kamran, the commander who is believed to have masterminded the attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama on Thursday — were killed in a 17-hour-long encounter with security forces in the Pinglan area of South Kashmir's Pulwama on Monday. Four army jawans, including a Major-rank officer, also lost their lives in the gunfight, and eight officers, including a Lieutenant Colonel, were injured.
Two of the slain terrorists were identified as Kamran, a Pakistani national, and Hilal Ahmad, a local recruited by the terror group. The identity of the third is being ascertained.
A joint team of the Indian Army's 55 Rashtriya Rifles, CRPF and the Special Operation Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Police had launched a cordon and search operation early on Monday after receiving a tip-off about the presence of militants in the area. The gunfight began after the militants opened fire on them.
The slain soldiers were identified as Major VS Dhondial, Havaldar Sheo Ram and Sepoys Hari Singh and Ajay Kumar. A head constable of the police was also killed. A civilian also died in the gunfight, though the troops had urged local residents to stay indoors for their safety.
The injured included DIG (south Kashmir) Amit Kumar, who received a gunshot wound in the abdomen, and a brigade commander, who suffered injury in the leg. Their condition was said to be stable on Monday evening.
One AK-47 rifle and one pistol were recovered from the militants at the encounter site. Meanwhile, Pakistan violated ceasefire in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday night. A cordon and search operation by the security forces was also started in Krawora village of the Shopian district.
In the aftermath of the latest brush with JeM militants, the cross-LoC bus service from Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch to Rawalakot in PoK was suspended for Monday. Trade on this route was also stalled and internet services were suspended in parts of the Valley.
The encounter comes days after a JeM suicide bomber killed 42 CRPF troops and injured several in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan-based JeM suicide bomber had rammed his vehicle carrying over 100 kilograms of explosives into one of the buses of the CRPF convoy in Pulwama district. According to the police sources, Sunday night's gunfight site is about 10 kilometres away from the suicide attack spot in Pulwama, IANS reported.
Meanwhile, the curfew in Jammu, imposed on 15 February, continued on Monday for the fourth consecutive day. The police said that no untoward incident had occurred anywhere in the city on Sunday night. However, mobile internet services also remained suspended in Jammu. The curfew was imposed after miscreants torched vehicles and damaged several others carrying number plates of the Kashmir Valley in protest against the 14 February attack.
In a major diplomatic offensive against Islamabad after the attack on Thursday, India highlighted Pakistan's role in using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. India has accused Pakistan of "patronising terrorism" and inaction against the JeM, which is based in the country, but Islamabad has maintained innocence.
On Monday, Pakistan's Foreign Office tweeted that the Pakistani High Commissioner in India has been called back for "consultations". The Spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan said in the tweet that the officer left New Delhi on Monday morning.
India on Friday had withdrawn the 'Most Favoured Nation' status for Pakistan and hiked customs duty by 200 percent on goods from the country with immediate effect.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 18, 2019 22:59:39 IST