Owner of van used in Feb 14 attack among 2 ultras killed

TNN Bureau. Updated: 6/19/2019 11:42:22 AM Front Page

Bloodbath continues… 8 dead in 24 hours

"Army jawan martyred in Anantnag encounter"

SRINAGAR: Two Jaish-e-Mohammed militants, including one who owned the explosives-laden vehicle used in February 14 Pulwama attack were killed, and an Army soldier attained martyrdom in an encounter Anantnag district on Tuesday—second in the restive district in last 24 hours.

The security forces had launched a cordon-and-search operation in Marahom village of Bijbehara area of the south Kashmir district in the morning following inputs about the presence of militants.

“As the search operation was going on, the hiding militants fired on the search party. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter,” said a police spokesman.

An Army jawan was injured in the gun battle with the militants. He was provided immediate first aid and evacuated to 92 Base Hospital but unfortunately succumbed to his injuries, the official said.

The martyr was identified as Rifleman Anil Kumar Jaswal (26). He belonged to village Saroh of Una District of Himachal Pradesh. He had joined Army in 2013 and is survived by his wife and a son.

In the subsequent exchange of fire, two militants were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.

“They have been identified as Sajad Bhat and Tauseef Bhat-- both residents of Marhama, Bijbehara, and were affiliated with the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group," the official said.

As per the records available with the police, both the killed 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 civilian atrocities, said the spokesman.

Besides several terror crimes, the official said, Sajad Bhat was also wanted in connection with the suicide car blast in Lethpora area of Pulwama on February 14 that left 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel dead.

“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 Bhat of Marhama. As the news of Sajad’s involvement spread, he escaped and joined proscribed outfit JeM,” he added.

“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 said.

“Both of them were part of groups involved in planning and executing a series of attacks in the area.

Several crime cases were registered against them. Some of the crime cases registered against Sajad include case FIR No 16/2018 and case FIR No 28/2019 pertaining to Lethpora attack. Cases registered against Tawseef include case FIR No 95/2018,” said the spokesman.

“Incriminating material including arms & ammunition has been recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken into case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other crimes,” he said.

On Monday, An Army major and a militant were killed, while another officer and two troopers injured in an encounter between the security forces and the ultras in Anantnag district, officials had said. A civilian’s body was found near the encounter site today.

On the same day in Pulwama, nine Army personnel and two civilians were injured when militants triggered a blast through an improvised explosive device (IED) fitted in a vehicle . Two of the jawans have succumbed to injuries on Tuesday, while the others are recuperating at a hospital. The site of the blast was 27 km from the area of the February 14 suicide attack.

Last Wednesday, a lone Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist attacked a patrol team of the paramilitary force in Anantnag, killing five CRPF personnel. A police officer, who had reached the site shortly after the attack, was sprayed with bullets the moment he had stepped out of his bullet-proof vehicle. He was flown to the AIIMS, Delhi, but died on Sunday.

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