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Jaish operative, owner of car used in Pulwama attack, killed in Anantnag encounter

 

An Army soldier was killed in a gunfight with militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag on Tuesday. Two Jaish-e-Mohammed operatives were also gunned down in the encounter. One of them has been identified as Sajjad Bhat, the owner of the vehicle used in the Pulwama terror attack of February 14 in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

Tawseef Ahmed Bhat, who is also linked to the Pulwama attack, was the other militant killed on Tuesday.

Sajjad Bhat of Bijbehara was the owner of the Maruti Eeco, laden with 25kg of explosives, used in the Pulwama terror attack. Investigators of the NIA had said Bhat, a student of a madrasa in Shopian, had been missing a few days before the attack.

The exchange of fire in Marahom village of Anantnag district on Tuesday took place after the joint force had started a cordon and search operation following intelligence inputs about the presence of militants in the area earlier in the day. The militants fired at the security personnel killing a soldier and injuring two others. The injured have been shifted to a hospital.

The army said that weapons and warlike stores have been found from the encounter site.

The army and other forces have stepped up security across the valley, especially in the militant hotbed of south Kashmir, after the CPRF troopers were killed in the Pulwama strike, which brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

The moves involved changes to protocols for how troops are moved in these areas, with mass movements and repeated use of the same stretch or at predictable timings being identified as vulnerabilities.

On Monday, Major Ketan Sharma from the 44 Rashtriya Rifles was killed and Major Rahul Verma was injured during a gunfight that also left a militant dead in south Kashmir’s Anantnag.

The incident came less than a week after another terror attack in the town that claimed the lives of five Central Reserve Police Force troopers and one police officer.

In a separate incident, around a dozen soldiers were injured when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) ripped through an army patrol in Pulwama district on Monday evening. Two soldiers who were injured in the blast in Arihal succumbed to injuries on Tuesday, the army said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incidents, which come at a time of heightened security over the Amarnath Yatra that is due to begin on July 1.

Security forces have killed 113 militants this year so far, including some top commanders of militant outfits in different parts of Kashmir. After the February attack, more than 85 militants have been killed and 26 security personnel have lost their lives.