Two militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad including nephew of outfit’s chief Masood Azhar were killed in an encounter with forces in a village at Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday.
A Police official said a joint team of Army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles, 180 bn CRPF and Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police launched a cordon and search operation in Chaanketaar village at around 2 pm on Tuesday after receiving inputs about presence of three militants there.
“As the search party was approaching towards a residential house surrounded by dense tree cover, they came under fire from militants. The fire was returned by troops, leading to a gunfight,” he said.
The official said in the ensuing five-hour long gunfight, two militants were killed.
“The deceased militant belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammad and their identity was being ascertained. It is believed that they were part of Jaish’s sniper squad, which carried multiple attacks in Pulwama and Srinagar outskirts,” he said.
According to official, an M4 carbine and an AK-47 rifle were recovered from the encounter site.
“Searches and operation was going on when reports last poured in,” he said.
The house, where from militants were firing, caught fire and suffered extensive damage after troops blew it up by using explosives.
Soon after the initial contact, reinforcements of forces were sent to the area.
All entry and exit points were sealed and multi layered siege was laid around the area to prevent militants from escaping.
Militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad confirmed that the deceased militants belong to the outfit.
In a statement to a local news gathering agency GNS, Jaish spokesman identified one of the deceased militants as Mohammad Usman, nephew of outfit’s chief Masood Azhar.
He identified the second deceased militant as Showkat Ahmad, a local.
The local residents said the gunfight in Chaankitaar, which is around 3 kilometers from Tral town, triggered intense clashes near Bus Stand where youth pelted stones on forces’ vehicles to disrupt the operation.
Authorities snapped mobile internet service in Tral, Pampore and Awantipora areas after eruption of the gunfight to contain spread of rumors through social media networking sites.